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When J. Dominic Mancini, a research assistant in the Channing Lab, started working in the Thorn Building in 2010, he noticed an opportunity for the hospital to save thousands of dollars. Instead of throwing away lab plastics, he thought, why not recycle them?
"It costs 40 cents per pound to throw out lab plastics as opposed to one or two cents per pound to recycle them," said Mancini. "I realized we had an opportunity to significantly lower our operating costs; it would just take time and training."
To put the project in motion, Mancini worked with the Office of Research Compliance, Lab Safety and Environmental Services to start a pilot program in January 2010. A bin designated for lab plastics recycling was placed on one floor of the Thorn Building. Once a week for six months, the bin overflowed with recyclable materials, and Mancini's project was on its way to expansion.
In June 2012, Mancini introduced the program to the research community at LabSCENE Live, a meeting where researchers discuss lab safety, compliance and environmental health news. Enthusiasm from lab managers, some of whom were taking plastics home to recycle, was palpable. Since the meeting, dozens of lab managers have requested bins for their floors.
Mancini's goal is to see the initiative expand to more labs throughout the hospital and offer training for lab managers who wish to participate. To request a bin, call Environmental Services at 617-732-7114. To request a laminated recycling instruction sheet to post above your bin, contact Patrick MacDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mancini's story highlights one of many recycling initiatives taking place throughout BWH. Here are a few other ways the hospital is going green, while saving some green.
Document Shredding. Each year, BWH recycles thousands of shredded documents. Over the course of 10 months, the savings are equivalent to 13,353 trees, 2,356 cubic yards of landfill, 1,571 barrels of oil, or 5.5 million gallons of water.
Needle liners and sharps containers. In August 2012, BWH began recycling needle liners and sharps containers, products that had previously been incinerated after a single use. Now these materials can be used more than 600 times, generating an estimated cost savings between $100,000 and $150,000 per year.
Reprocessing single use devices. Specialized hospital machinery
often comes with a hefty price tag. To gain the most from the equipment, the Operating Room and the Cath Lab currently reprocess single-use devices. These devices are sent to a third party to sterilize, repackage and resell back to BWH at a discounted price.
Green Team. No, this is not Captain Planet's crew, but a committee of hospital employees who unite to monitor and streamline all 47 waste streams at BWH. Since the launch of the Partners Sustainable Initiatives program in 2008, Green Teams have been set up in every Partner's HealthCare hospital to establish and monitor benchmarks for each institution.
Staring this January, the major goal of the Green Team will be to develop a single stream recycling process, where recycled materials can be deposited in the same bags and bins. The result will reduce the time, labor and space needed to store and process recycled materials.
"The ultimate goal is to recycle 50 percent of what we have," said Andrew Madden, director of Materials Management. "But it will take time. It's a marathon; not a sprint."
Did you know?
The Shapiro Center, a silver certified LEED building, has reduced the Brigham's carbon dioxide emissions by more than one million pounds per year. That's the equivalent of enough gas to drive a Volkswagen Beetle for more than 1.8 million miles!