Chatham-Kent Health Alliance adopts leading environmental initiative

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Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) has implemented a ground-breaking environmental initiative, making it one of the first hospitals in Canada to recycle instrument tray wraps. These wraps seal surgical instrument trays to maintain their contents’ sterility until they are opened and used in patient areas such as Operating Rooms and Emergency Departments. Instrument tray wraps are composed of polypropylene plastic which never breaks down. Every year, CKHA uses thousands of wraps, which until now had been directed to landfill. The initiative came about when CKHA’s Central Sterile Processing Manager learned of a Tennessee hospital’s wrap recycling program. Further research and planning was conducted by CKHA’s Green Team, Engineering and Support Services, and Housekeeping departments, with support from a summer student from the Environmental Engineering program at University of Windsor. The team met with CKHA’s waste service provider to determine if it would be able to accommodate wrap recycling. Although the Municipality of Chatham-Kent regularly recycles number five plastics, the woven, fibrous makeup of the instrument tray wraps prevented them from being recycled at local facilities. Chatham-Kent Health Alliance discovered a Toronto-based recycling company, Turtle Island. After multiple meetings – independently and with Turtle Island’s Southwestern Ontario Sales Representative – a collaborative partnership was born and CKHA became one of the first hospitals in Canada to make this environmental commitment. By placing recycling receptacles in all areas that utilize instrument trays, staff now disposes of wraps using designated recycling containers rather than regular garbage receptacles destined for landfill. This initiative is expected to divert 18 tonnes of waste from landfill annually. Beth Hall, Director Support Services and co-chair of CKHA’s Green Team said, “The implementation phase of this project spanned approximately fifteen months. With the program now in full swing, wrap collection has become a lifelong commitment and our efforts towards a healthier environment are growing.” “An undertaking of this magnitude could not be successful without the full support, cooperation, and dedication of staff at CKHA,” she adds. “This is a prime example of what caring people and teamwork can accomplish.” A case study of CKHA’s wrap recycling initiative will soon be featured on the Government of Ontario website, at http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/business/wastereduction/office/case-studies.php. To learn more about Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s efforts to conserve energy, visit the Energy Matters link on their website, www.ckha.on.ca. (click on Resources, then Energy Matters)