361 - Recycling in the OR: At the Forefront of Sustainability
Description: Recycling in the Operating Room: At the Forefront of Sustainability Clinical Problem: The operating room generates a vast amount of waste, a large portion of which are recyclable materials that are never contaminated with bioburden. Because all of our sterile items come in packaging and many of our items are single-use, the waste can accumulate exponentially. After reviewing several companies we work with at The University Chicago Medicine, we have a campaign to reduce, reuse, and recycle in the OR. Description of Team: An interdisciplinary team was formed of OR nurses; and leadership from nursing, supply chain, and environmental services. We included an initiative to involve staff nurses from other specialty areas who were interested in recycling in their departments, and worked with a Green Team coach, a recycling company, a single-use sterile instrument reprocessesor, and a standardized case pack provider Preparation and planning: An investigative approach was taken to learn how recycling was being managed hospital-wide, then broken down in to supply chain and environmental services to follow current processes for landfill waste and recyclables. After a clear system was identified, we had meetings with nursing leadership, and a hospital wide Green Team was formed to meet monthly to collaborate with all hospital operations, meanwhile the Unit Based Council (UBC) analyzed nursing implications and workflow in the OR.
Assessment: Although the OR had been separating paper and plastic and keeping a clean, color-coded bag at the beginning of the case, it was learned that the hospital no longer had a recycling program in place. The OR nurses asked hospital leadership through the Green Team to expand our recyclables from corrugated cardboard only to all paper and plastic. Implementation: On September 4, 2019, an OR inservice was presented by current vendors to address maximizing existing initiatives. Goal planning and timelines were also discussed. The UBC, with the recycling company, our standardized case pack provider, and our single use item reprocessing company, analyzed nursing implications and workflow. The UBC then streamlined a process to reduce waste contamination at the beginning of the case Outcome: In 2019, UChicago Medicine has diverted 16,900 lbs of waste from landfills, has saved over $228,333 in waste diversion and reprocessing, and are on track to increase recycling and reprocessing 40% from 2018 by these nursing initiatives. Implications for Perioperative nursing: Biomedical waste affects us all, and the OR generates more than 1/3 of all hospital waste. While streamlining a process with recycling and reprocessing can be time consuming; and diligent, case-specific packs can be tedious to manage in real time, the impact is not only environmental, but also financial for hospitals. OR nurses have the ability to reduce, reuse, recycle and maintain workflow. Author: Monica Kniss, BSN, RN, CNOR