Resource Recycling Systems

By Greenhealth Staff on October 4, 2012

Nicole Chardoul, P.E., Principal, Director of Project Operations, discusses waste challenges and solutions for the health care sector.

For over 25 years, Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) has worked to motivate groups, municipalities, businesses, and hospitals to build a sustainable and waste-free future. Founded by CEO Jim Frey, the company has a team of consulting and engineering staff who fosters and delivers results that advance the economic, environmental, and social bottom line of organizations.

Greenhealth: What are the problems we face in waste management?

Nicole Chardoul: Managing waste at a health care facility is challenging. The industry’s waste stream is unique in its complexity, regulatory oversight, and implicit costs, so many institutions need technical expertise and are being drawn into one-stop shopping alternatives. In many instances, these options, though convenient, offer solutions that contain longer haul distances and other hidden environmental costs that should be accounted for in an institution’s environmental footprint. The greatest hurdle for health care waste managers is to navigate the relationship among environmental stewardship, convenience, and cost, which is a significant obstacle to already overwhelmed managers.

Also, the health care industry generates a huge amount of waste, and much of this is in products and product packaging. The industry can have a significant impact on the environment and can be sustainability leaders by holding their vendors and suppliers accountable to be responsible for the products they manufacture and the services they provide.

GH: What are the RRS strategies for reducing waste?

NC: RRS employs a full-system approach to managing waste materials, emphasizing compliance and cost containment from the point of generation to the point of final disposal or recycling. Success is achieved by making sure that each program component works well with the rest of the system—from collection systems to facilities and operating procedures, from recycling capacity and education to waste and resources management.

GH: What have been some of your successes?

NC: RRS has a long-standing professional history with the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Partnering with that hospital, RRS has been able to decommission its medical waste incinerator, implement new recycling services, build a green team, create a total waste operations program and budget, and provide on-site resource management, including compliant management of medical, hazardous, and pharmaceutical waste.

In an effort to minimize waste, lower costs, increase recycling participation, and identify environmentally beneficial alternatives, RRS has worked alongside multiple hospitals to provide waste and recycling resources management services, implementation of waste minimization programs, waste assessments and waste sorts, and employee training on waste and recycling procedures and policies. The waste assessments have shown as much as a 50 percent potential reduction in volume from the regulated medical waste stream; all our programs result in greater compliance, substantial cost savings, and environmental benefits.

To continue in this line of work, RRS recently partnered with a leading medical supply company with a sustainability program and green product line to conduct operating room medical waste assessments to report relevant best practices and corrective actions to hospitals across the country.

GH: What are the company’s future goals in waste management for hospitals?

NC: RRS is engaged in making hospitals fully aware of the impact waste reduction and recycling can have. We believe that the health care industry can—and should—be a leader in environmental stewardship through community education, waste reduction, and use of suppliers to produce cost-effective green alternatives. RRS, in its dedication to creating healthier lifestyles, partners with the health care industry to play a continued role in linking waste reduction, cost savings, and health care for years to come.