Greening the Hospital's Waste Stream
AMH's waste stream — which generates an average of more than 2,400 tons of waste per year — is divided into three parts: Red Bag Waste (infectious materials), Recycled Materials (anything that can be recycled or reused) and Municipal Waste (general, solid, non-infectious waste).
While municipal waste makes up the majority of the hospital's waste stream (usually between 50 and 70 percent of the total), Red Bag Waste (RBW) is the most important measure for a healthcare organization, as it represents a true benchmark for waste stream management.
The cost to handle and dispose of RBW is substantially more than municipal waste. This makes efforts to reduce the commingling of these wastes a very important task. When solid waste is mixed with medical waste it must be treated as part of the medical waste stream. RBW can cost $480 a ton or more to process in comparison to municipal waste costs of $25 per ton — according to Waste Management, AMH's waste removal partner.
Recycled materials — disposed of in the blue trash bags, as opposed to clear for municipal waste and red for RBW — consist of clean, solid wastes that can be separated and sent for recycling (such as paper, cardboard, metals and plastics) and "Universal Waste" (such as batteries, fluorescent light tubes) that, if properly segregated, can be collected and sent to niche recyclers like Battery Solutions and GigaBiter.
The following charts for RBW, recycling and municipal waste, illustrate how these three components make up the totality of AMH's waste stream.