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Waste Prevention in Healthcare Facilities

Click on the items in the healthcare facility below or use the jump links to go to related waste prevention information for this business sector. You can also use the itemized list in the pull-down menu above to go directly to waste prevention tips for particular products or activities that cross various business sectors.

industry profile 
waste prevention for healthcare facilities


Industry profile

According to the New York State Department of Labor, leaving NYCWasteLess there are more than 559,000 people who work in the healthcare industry in New York City. Almost half of them are employed by the City’s 96 voluntary, municipal, veterans’, and psychiatric hospitals, while the remainder are employed by physician offices and outpatient, nursing, and residential care facilities.

The Tellus Institute’s Healthy Hospitals: Environmental Improvements through Environmental Accounting leaving NYCWasteLess states that hospitals in the United States generate two million tons of solid waste per year or, on average, fifteen pounds of waste per patient per day. The New York City Health and Hospital Corporation’s New York City Medical Waste Management Study (1991) estimates that NYC hospitals generate roughly 705 tons of waste per day. These figures do not account for the additional volumes of waste created by physicians, as well as outpatient and residential care facilities.

A typical healthcare facility waste stream can be broken down into two categories: non-regulated medical waste (NRMW) and regulated medical waste (RMW).

NRMW makes up approximately 85 percent of a facility’s waste stream; it consists primarily of items typically generated through administrative, shipping/receiving, maintenance, and food-service activities. It is estimated that 45 percent of NRMW is comprised of office paper, corrugated cardboard, and paper packaging, while plastic and food, respectively, account for 15 percent and 10 percent of NRMW.

RMW makes up the remaining 15 percent of a healthcare facility’s waste. RMW is normally segregated at the point of generation because it is considered potentially infectious. RMW generally includes items like laboratory cultures and stocks of infectious agents, human blood and blood products, pathological waste, sharps, isolation waste, and animal waste.

In addition to solid waste, healthcare facilities generate a small percentage of hazardous waste that must be handled differently than medical waste. Examples of hazardous wastes created in healthcare facilities include mercury, formaldehyde, spent solvent, and photographic chemicals.

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Waste prevention tips for healthcare facilities

Check out the topics below for tips on how to reduce costs and increase efficiency in your healthcare facility:

cleaners and disinfectants
environmental management systems
medical waste
reusable supplies and equipment

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Tips for your agency:
cafeteria | garage and repair shop | maintenance | office | restroom | shipping and receiving | yard

Tips for businesses:
green building | healthcare | manufacturing | office | restaurant | retail | workplace relocation

Reusables Cleaners/disinfectants Mercury Medical waste Environmental Management System Electronic equipment
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