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[GreenYes] Fw: zero waste hospitals?
Please respond to Glen McRae.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, April 27, 2002 12:28 PM
Subject: zero waste hospitals?

There was a recent series of communications on Zero
Waste International in hospitals (e.g., Ralph at the
training in Solvenia and Eric with work in Boulder)
We are in the process of concluding a review of the
literature and documentation of hospital waste
composition funded by HCWH.  If you have access
to primary source studies on composition please
forward them to us.

I believe that hospitals are not the first place to start
the ZW concept.  They certainly can be low waste
producers.  However, they have one of the most
diverse waste streams of any institution.  This includes
the use of radioactive materials, a wide variety of
chemically hazardous materials, from highly toxic
chemotherapeutic drugs and pharmaceuticals to large
quantities of formalin and alcohol in labs.  They are
prodigious users of water and energy as they need to
operate 24/7.  Their solid waste component varies
from country to country, and does contain high
volumes of recyclable materials - high grade papers
and plastics in particular from packaging.  A return to
reusable items - particularly in non-critical care areas
(bed pans, etc.) would go a long way to reducing
waste, thought the resulting need for disinfection and
wash facilities has to be addressed.

Through work we have done over the past twelve
years in the US and abroad with hospitals, our general
rule for a hospital (not a clinic) is that the infectious
waste component can be reduced to about 5%
safely.  Recycling and composting of wastes at several
US/Canada hospitals has reached over 50% at times
with agressive but not monumental efforts.

If there is a strong interest in pursuing this topic
I would be happy to engage with folks.  However as
I stated at the beginning, health care has a long ways
to go before it will be a likely target for zero waste.
I suggest rather a strategy to address the industries
that supply materials to health care.  There have been
some significant strides in volume reduction in
packaging and switching to less hazardous materials
by companies like Johnson & Johnson.  Engaging the
supply companies first would be a good step in this

I am not currently on the list serve so please reply to
me directly if anyone has information to share or
would like to further this discussion.

Glenn McRae

Health Care Without Harm International
Glenn McRae,  Ph.D.
Technical Assistance
5 Ridge Rd.   Essex Jct., Vermont  05452  USA
phone and fax-802-878-9507  (alternative work phone 802-878-1920)

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