July 23, 2012
NGH staff work on ways to reduce and recycle
|Joanne Kiefer & Robb Winter|
Simcoe, ON – Norfolk General Hospital has a goal of reducing waste and increasing recycling. Like many other hospitals in the province, waste management is a very costly operational expense. To find ways to reduce waste and become more environmentally friendly is a real win for everyone.
“Staff has shown great response to the initiatives that we have rolled out. We knew that staff wanted to be environmentally friendly; we just needed to make it as easy as possible. NGH is committed to sustaining this momentum and continually looking for ways to improve our recycling practices,” said Joanne Kiefer, director housekeeping and food services.
Through a recent Waste to Resource assessment, several primary recommendations were discovered.
- Improve capture rate of current recyclable material
- Improve recycling signage and bin placement
- Increase employee education
The NGH Housekeeping department, (responsible for waste minimization programs throughout the hospital), immediately identified this as a real opportunity to work on strategies that would address these recommendations.
The assessment found that 75% of non-recyclable paper, (primarily paper coffee cups) was ending up in the landfill. Housekeeping decided this would be an excellent time to create an incentive plan for staff and visitors to make the change to re-useable travel mugs.
In June, staff that purchased a beverage in their travel mug was entered into a draw for a basket filled with local food and drink. Travel mugs were also sold at a discounted price at the hospital coffee kiosk. Over 50 staff made the switch from using regular coffee cups to their environmentally friendly travel mug. Over 300 entries were submitted, (that’s 300 less coffee cups in the landfill).
NGH is also working towards reducing the amount of heavy metals such as mercury and lead that is ending up in our landfills by participating in battery recycling program and has introduced well labeled safe, convenient collection containers in the hospital for staff to drop of their batteries from work or home. None of these materials generated are exported overseas or landfilled.
Housekeeping also recognized a need to re-educate staff on what items can and cannot be recycled and what items go in which bins. The hospital coffee kiosk display case emphasized the 3 R’s (Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle) and additional signage was added to specific areas of the hospital. Additional internal educational materials were rolled out through posters, emails and the hospital newsletter. “It wasn’t long before a difference was noted,” said Kiefer.
“We started to see more staff with travel mugs and a growing need for more recycling bins. The kitchen underwent some of the most drastic improvements by decreasing their need for garbage bags by 50%, per day.”
“We will continue to look at ways where we can be more environmentally friendly at NGH and plan to update and educate staff on a regular basis so that it is never far from their mind. We don’t want to let anything go to waste,” stated Kiefer.