Thanks to Monica Anderson of LifeSpan for providing story about the program
Almost 20 percent of all operating room waste can be attributed to polypropylene or “blue wrap,” the material used to keep surgical instruments sterile. Since the product is not biodegradable, millions of pounds of blue wrap ends up in landfills across the country each year. To address this issue, The Miriam and Newport hospitals have been recycling blue wrap for years. Now, Rhode Island Hospital has joined that effort for the first time, launching its own blue wrap recycling program this month. The volume of blue wrap produced at The Miriam and Newport hospitals is smaller, due to their size, so their used wrap could be collected and stored before shipping out to a recycling facility. At Rhode Island Hospital, the effort has required investing in new machinery—namely, a 600-pound baler—to consolidate the material and ready it for recycling.
The project has been years in the making, requiring collaboration across the hospital. “This has taken years of hard work to get off the ground, and my thanks go out to everyone involved,” said Loree Eysaman, vice president of perioperative services. “Blue wrap never touches a patient, but once the instruments are removed, the wrap can never be used in the hospital again. This provides a unique opportunity to consider the environmental impact and develop a strategy for how the waste is managed.”
Staff members are currently being trained on new protocols for collection and disposal of the blue wrap. Only clean, used blue wrap is eligible for recycling—the material is then melted down into resin pellets and reused in a variety of new products. “Participation and follow-through will be key to ensuring this program is successful,” said Michaele Skwirz, manager of OR sterile processing. “This program provides a great opportunity for the hospital.”
“Approximately 34% of our waste is recycled,” said Roger Durand, director of environmental services and central laundry. “We’re excited to launch this latest piece of our recycling program. We’re doing a great job, and this will make our efforts even better.”