Did you know that the health care industry in the United States is the second largest producer of waste sent to the landfill?
Swedish works to improve our efforts each year by reducing waste and increasing recycling and composting. The Ballard campus had a recycling rate of 59% in 2013, one of the highest recycling rates in the country. The industry average is 36%. This campus composted 132,480 pounds of yard and food waste, and recycled 77,300 pounds of comingled materials. We accomplish this by the combined efforts of employees, patients and guests.
How do we do this?
- Education: People need to know what and where they can recycle.
- Provide Receptacles: We put recycling bags in the patient rooms, blue recycling bins are located in obvious areas, and the surgery department recycles all recyclable materials.
- Cooperation: Patients can recycle their items on their food trays and the kitchen will route it appropriately.
- Passion: It takes passionate and committed individuals expressing not only enthusiasm, but “walking the talk” as role models and leaders.
How much money is saved at Swedish/Ballard through recycling?
Total recycling in 2013 was 517,063 pounds. Right off the top, we save 4 cents per pound in recycled items, which in 2013 equaled a savings of $20,683. Not calculated in this savings are city, county and state taxes. An additional charge besides the fee per pound of garbage is the Municipal Solid Waste tip fee. A tip fee is the charge for each pull of the compactor box. Currently, we have two pick-ups per month, and each tip fee is $127. Through recycling and composting, we reduce the amount of trash in the compactor box, thus reducing the pulls and the tip fee.
Programs at Swedish include waste reduction, recycling, reprocessing and composting initiatives. These programs are important because the volume and toxicity of health care waste is a growing environmental concern. Recycling saves money, reduces waste, and protects our water supply. We have both an economic and a moral obligation to do all we can with our resources to make the earth a safe place for us and future generations.