When the bedside nurses at a busy intensive care unit found out that almost all of their packaging from IV tubing, IV solution bags, and other plastic/paper wrapped supplies was recyclable, they committed to a small change in practice that has added up to big environmental results.
Getting Expert Advice
The hospital's Going Green Committee invited the Waste/Recycling company representative to round on the unit and educate nurses about the recycling program. Nurses know their own waste habits best and were quick to look at their practice with the intent to recycle what they could. Questions abounded, "Is this recyclable?" and "What about this?" Plastics, aluminum, and paper were all available to be recycled in a single stream, or mixed together.
Nurses took it seriously when the company rep stood in front of the iv supply cart, and announced, "The packaging from all these supplies is paper-backed plastic, and can be recycled."
The trash can nearest the area where nurses prepare IV lines and unwrap supplies for use was designated for recyclables. Signage was added to prevent trash from entering the recycling stream.
The Huge Impact
That small change in practice, recycling IV packaging, has resulted in a new mindfulness of how nurses can impact environmental health, and thus their patients and their own health. That one trash can produces at least two bags of recyclables a day, or more than 700 bags of trash being saved from entering the landfill per year. That's a big result from a small change!