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February 13, 2014 - USA Medical Center Launches New Recycling Program
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USA Medical Center Director of Environmental Services Michael Peterson stands next to the new 34-yard recycling compactor that is part of a recently introduced hospital-wide recycling program. This compactor runs between 70 and 80 times a day, and according to Peterson, the new program is proving to be as budget-friendly as it is environmentally responsible.

A hospital-wide recycling program has been launched at the University of South Alabama Medical Center.

The recycling program is part of a new agreement with waste management company Stericycle. The hospital already had an agreement with the company to handle medical waste but expanded it in September 2012 to include pharmaceutical waste, recycling and management of the hospital’s municipal waste contract.

In order to implement the recycling component, significant modifications had to be made to the physical plant at USA Medical Center to accommodate a new 34-yard recycling compactor.

Phase one of the program began with the placement of blue recycling cans in 35 locations at USA Medical Center. Representatives from each department were enlisted to learn about the program and encourage participation.

The contents of these blue cans end up in the compactor, which is specifically designed for recyclable waste. When it is full, Stericycle removes the compactor and separates it into individual waste components. The first load in October collected 12,560 pounds of paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum and glass from the Medical Center.

Stericycle and the hospital share any returns on the recycling 50-50, yet it is not a moneymaking venture, according to Michael Peterson, director of environmental services.

“Essentially, the recycling program diverts a percentage of our waste from the municipal waste stream, which saves the hospital money,” he says.

For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, the Medical Center disposed of 1,806,077 pounds of waste in all waste streams. Of that amount, 303,518 pounds, or 18.25 percent, came from existing and new recycling programs. That exceeds the industry standard of 15 percent.

Phase two of the recycling program, due to begin in this year, will place the blue cans in more locations throughout the hospital.

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