A collaborative multi-hospital
recycling project between the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) and
the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) in Chicago proved to be successful.
Plastic materials in hospitals
are currently difficult to recycle in an economically viable way due to the
material failing to represent enough value to attract the attention of
recyclers. The project brought together multiple hospitals in an attempt to
overcome this issue.
Plastics primarily from main
operating rooms and ambulatory surgery centres were collected and then
transported by waste haulers to material recovery facilities (MRFs) for
processing, or transferred to specialised plastics recyclers.
A project aimed to address the
issues surrounding the use and recycling of plastics used in the healthcare
industry was carried out in Chicago. HPRC and Plastics aimed to introduce a
viable recycling model for healthcare plastics, the focus being on noninfectious
plastic packaging and products collected from clinical areas of the hospitals.
The project was a success in many
areas, such as defining the relative quantities of material types and
understanding the complexity of sorting the materials once collectively amassed.
The highest volume of material collected was sterilisation wrap and as such, the
material was evaluated as a viable substitute or supplement for virgin resins in
product manufacturing. Other packaging materials such as film plastics, as well
as rigid plastic packaging were also collected.
The team were also successful in
testing the potential to demonstrate value through energy conversion and
chemical recycling, showing that value can still be realised through other
Chris Rogers, HPRC project
manager said: “This project provided valuable insights into the realities of
implementing plastics recycling programs in clinical healthcare settings. What
we learned is that collection of plastics must be made simple for clinical staff
in order to be effective. Detailed sorting at the point of generation is too
complex and a distant priority from clinician’s primary focus of ensuring
positive patient outcomes. It’s also important to remember that behavioural
change around recycling can be a slow process, one that takes constant
reinforcement over time.”
Kim Holmes senior director of
recycling and diversion at PLASTICS said: “In addition to testing the recovery
and mechanical recycling of healthcare plastics, we were also able to explore
alternative pathways of chemical recycling and conversion to fuel products with
our technology partners. Proving the value of these hospital plastics in the
conversion process was an exciting dimension of this project and underscores the
importance of adding non-mechanical recovery technologies to our resource
management tool kit.”
Participating hospitals included
Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Centre, and NorthShore University
HealthSystem’s Evanston, Skokie and Glenbrook Hospitals.
- December 20, 2016)
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