Less Waste Challenge

By Janet Brown Director, Content and Outreach, Healthier Hospitals Initiative on October 3, 2012

How the Healthier Hospitals Initiative can help your facility reduce waste

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) is off and running! The Less Waste Challenge hones in on some win-win strategies for waste success and is the most popular challenge of all six challenges—45 percent of participants enrolled in this challenge.

Some health systems, like HCA, Advocate, and Dignity, have enrolled their entire health systems in the Less Waste Challenge. It’s a great way to work together, streamline programming, and document system-wide impact and success. Those contracting with integrated waste stream solutions providers can work with their business partners to not only achieve their goals but also help with data collection.

The Less Waste Challenge is in alignment with Practice Greenhealth’s approach to getting started with improved waste management, but it has carefully crafted the challenge’s language to ensure success regardless of facility size or location. Baseline measurements—red bag reduction, recycling, and construction and demolition debris—are considered in the challenge. A hospital that commits to the challenge can take on one, two, or all three levels.

Through Practice Greenhealth’s 2012 Benchmark Report data, we know that hospitals generate a whopping 30.9 pounds of total waste per staffed bed per day. Top award winners average a 37 percent recycling rate and a 7 percent regulated medical waste rate. Top award winners can enroll in HHI, take on the Less Waste Challenge, and add their data to the pool without doing any additional program implementation.

Recycling Checklist: Material Type
  • Batteries
  • Boxboard
  • Cans, aluminum
  • Cans, steel
  • Cardboard
  • Commingled or single stream
  • Computers and electronics
  • Food waste composting

The How-To Guide provides definitions of each waste and materials stream and step-by-step guidance, checklists, and other documents to help hospitals understand, track, and make progress on recycling and red bag reduction.

Why is this worth the effort? The beauty of HHI is that it will capture standardized data on the six areas of focus; the data will demonstrate the value and help to further engage the entire sector in realizing the financial and environmental values of these specific interventions. Up until now, successes were based on case studies or personal experiences. Through HHI and standardized data collection, the Initiative will demonstrate quantitatively the critical role that improved environmental performance plays in cost savings, mission demonstration, community and employee benefit, and quality care, and those hospitals that are just getting started can benefit from HHI through these interventions; either way, it’s win-win. The data help tell the story, and those just getting started can participate in, learn, and be part of the movement. Need help? Let us know—and be sure to let your waste hauler know—of your interest.

Here are the details of the Less Waste Challenge. Read more on the HHI website at www.healthierhospitals.org/hhi-challenges/less-waste.

"The Less Waste How-To Guide " provides step-by-step guidance. Once you are enrolled in this free initiative, keep an eye on the HHI Sharing Calls and webinar page for notices of calls and events to help support implementation efforts.

Enroll in HHI and sign on to the Less Waste Challenge! You will be glad you did.

Inova Health, one of the 11 HHI sponsoring health systems, realized a 14 percent red bag reduction with over $200,000 savings in waste removal fees. Read the full case study on the HHI website at www.healthierhospitals.org/get-inspired/case-studies/less-waste-red-bag-reduction-success-inova-fairfax-hospital.

Less Waste Challenge

Step 1: Report a waste baseline for solid waste–regulated medical waste, recycling, and hazardous waste. Continue tracking for a three-year minimum.

Step 2: Commit to one, two, or three: regulated medical waste reduction, recycling, or construction and demolition diversion goals.

Regulated medical waste reduction: Reduce RMV to either less than 10 percent of the total waste or fewer than three pounds (based on adjusted patient-day).

Recycling: Achieve a 15 percent recycling rate compared to total waste.

Construction and demolition diversion: Implement a construction and demolition debris recycling program for major renovations and new construction to achieve at least 80 percent recycling and diversion rate.