How Green Are We Thinking?
Municipal Waste – as defined by the Green Guide for Health Care – is solid waste that cannot be recycled and does not contain hazardous or infectious materials. In other words, municipal waste consists of all the “general,” non-recyclable trash that is generated in areas such as offices and the cafeteria.
Municipal Waste as a Percent
of Total Waste
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National standards for healthcare organizations suggest that the production of municipal waste should equate to roughly 50 to 60 percent of the total waste stream, with best practices producing below 50 percent of municipal waste.
In FY 08, AMH maintained a sub-60 percent municipal waste percentage for a ten-month period, but changes in the waste culture – specifically to reduce RBW – and lackluster recycling, have severely affected the municipal waste stream.
In order to maintain appropriate levels of municipal waste, the hospital must execute RBW and recycling programs effectively. It’s a balancing act – as RBW continues to decrease, municipal waste will increase (meaning solid waste is being properly disposed of). At the same time, as recycling efforts increase, municipal waste totals will decrease, due to a large population of solid waste (plastics, metals, paper) being removed from the municipal waste stream.
Lowering the hospital’s production of municipal waste is simple – recycle more. But that seems to be easier said than done. AMH will only see a major drop in municipal waste if there is a significant increase in recycling. The more materials that can be reused or recycled, the less municipal waste AMH will produce.
As of September 2010, municipal waste makes up 55.82 percent of the hospital’s total waste stream, positioning Abington Memorial Hospital among the national best practitioners for healthcare organizations.