Reducing Paper and Cardboard Waste
Every year, U.S. health care facilities generate nearly two billion pounds of paper and cardboard waste, making up 40 percent of the total waste they produce. As one of their top waste streams, health care organizations need to address recyclable materials as part of their larger sustainability efforts. A key element is a thoughtful recycling program. When organizations actively target this waste stream, they can not only lessen the amount of materials entering landfills, but also curb air emissions by reducing the volume burned in combustors.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM), recycling 10 tons of cardboard is the equivalent of removing annual emissions from seven passenger vehicles and conserving nearly 3,800 gallons of gasoline. If every health care organization made a commitment to consistent paper and cardboard recycling, imagine how big an effect the industry could have in reducing its carbon footprint.
How Health Care Facilities Can Make it Easy to Recycle Paper and Cardboard
To ensure proper and consistent recycling, organizations should have defined processes in place and make this effort as easy as possible, each and every time. If recycling is difficult, staff might throw away unneeded or leftover paper or cardboard along with regular trash to conserve time. As such, recycling areas should be conveniently located, and staff should fully understand the benefits of recycling and how to do it. Consider establishing a committee to lead environmental sustainability efforts, including to determine the placement of recycling containers and how different departments can better reuse and recycle, as well as providing education and training to staff.
Work with a Partner as Dedicated to Sustainability as Your Health Care Facility
While health care organizations must be diligent about recycling efforts within their facility, it’s also important to ensure paper and cardboard waste are handled appropriately after leaving the organization’s four walls. Partner with organizations that have similar interests in sustainable practices.
Last year, Stericycle facilities recycled a total of 1,146 tons of cardboard and 743,000 tons of shredded paper, preventing those items from ending up in landfills. We are constantly working to identify ways to better protect the environment. Let our dedication to sustainability drive your recycling efforts.