Metro Health Hospital cuts costs by composting and recycling.

Thinking outside — and inside — the recycling bin has enabled two hospitals to achieve recycling rates that exceed the 25 percent standard set by Practice Greenhealth, Reston, Va., for those facilities that earn its Environmental Leadership Awards.

During a recent conference call with other hospital sustainability officials, Alison Waske, sustainable business officer, Metro Health Hospital, Wyoming, Mich., and Christopher Parkinson, project coordinator for healthy operations, Cleveland Clinic, shared recycling and waste diversion tips that contributed to their facilities' exceeding the 25 percent threshold.

Waske cited several steps that Metro Health Hospital took to push its recycling rate to 45 percent in the second quarter of this year:

  • Switching to single-stream recycling.
  • Adding recycling bins throughout the hospital to increase convenience.
  • Ongoing training.
  • Tripling the compost collection capacity.

Waske says the steps saved the hospital about $170,000 in 2010.

Parkinson says Cleveland Clinic increased its waste diversion rate starting in 2008 after implementing a comprehensive management plan. The landfill diversion rate for nonconstruction-related waste increased from a low of 10 percent in May 2007 to 30 percent for 2010.

Parkinson says an improved system led to a 58 percent increase in the shredding of confidential documents and a compost program diverts about three tons of waste a month.