FacilityCare Magazine

May/June 2012

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Page 14 of 39

GREENING HEALTHCARE Current Work pinpoint where they occur. This mapping helped set the groundwork for HPRC's tech- nical agenda and is in part what sets it apart from other groups working in the healthcare recycling space. HPRC is unique in its focus on identification of recycling barriers and solution development along the entire value chain – meaning, they are seeking to affect plastics recycling from healthcare product design and manufacturing through product use, disposal and recycle. "As a manufacturer of medical devices, sup- plies and pharmaceuticals, we are concerned with the sustainability issues our products bring to the value chain," says Joe Jansen, vice president of environmental, health and safety at Covidien. "Our membership in HPRC allows us to engage in the full life cycle of plastics in the healthcare industry. This shareholder engagement has helped guide our decision making to design, manufacture and deliver sus- tainable products and services." The Work HPRC is currently engaged in several activ- ities and initiatives aimed at improving the recyclability of healthcare plastics. As with any effort focused on solution development, customer input is critical. In the case of HPRC, that customer is the hospitals. To help set priorities and steer the agenda, the coun- cil established a Healthcare Facility Advisory Board, appointing Kaiser Permanente and Stanford University Medical Center to the role. Kaiser and Stanford are assisting the council in identifying high-value needs and opportunities for action, sharing firsthand perspective and understanding of recycling barriers that exist within their facilities, and providing access to data, information and resources at the hospital level. MAY/JUNE 2012 Design for Recycling Guidelines (Product Design Stage) HPRC has recently concluded work on a set of guidelines that offer useful product and packaging design considerations for improv- ing the recyclability of disposable plastic products. The Design Guidelines for Optimal Hospital Plastics Recycling take a look at product and packaging design features that inhibit post-use recycling potential and make design recommendations that could enhance product recyclability. Examples of desirable design practices include eliminating multiple material types used within one discrete prod- uct, avoiding paper tapes or labels attached directly to products, allowing for post-use identification and removal of product residue, and minimizing the use of pigments in products. materials, types, volumes and sources of pre-patient plastic waste. With this infor- mation, HPRC intends to provide fact- and experience-based guidance on recycling for hospitals. Resin Testing (Product Recycle Stage) Focused on the downstream side of the value chain, HPRC members Engineered Plastics, Inc., and Eastman Chemical Company are conducting material testing of the technical limitations in plastics process- ing in order to evaluate contamination thresholds against market value. They want to better understand the mixed plastic blends that will produce a resin that will support a high market value and have wide reuse appli- cations. "The current market does not provide eco- nomic incentive to hospitals to recycle," says Bill Turpin, director of strategic business development of Waste Management. "The current cost of collection, aggregation, trans- port and processing usually exceeds the cur- rent economic value of the plastics waste stream, with only a few exceptions usually defined by geography. However, we can capi- talize on the knowledge that we gain from the exceptions and drive the factors and the changes that will improve the economics across the country. As a member company, Waste Management brings the knowledge to HPRC to understand the downstream market economic drivers and create the pull for cost- neutral recycling programs." F Paper to Plastic Labels (Product Manufacturing Stage) One of the great disablers of plastics recy- cling in healthcare is the presence of paper tapes and labels on plastic products. Paper can be found everywhere – on IV bags, on plastic bottles, on sterilization wrap, in pack- aging – and its effect is detrimental to the recycling process because paper contamina- tion in reprocessed plastic resin diminishes its market value and limits its reuse applica- tions. HPRC is confronting this issue by con- ducting a cost analysis to determine the feasi- bility of making an industry shift from paper labels to plastic labels. Pilot Studies (Product Use Stage) With one pilot already under its belt, HPRC is looking to launch two additional pilots this summer to develop a better understanding of plastic waste characteriza- tion within healthcare facilities. The studies will collect and analyze data related to Alison Trauley is a consultant for Antea Group, an envi- ronment and sustainability consulting firm that provides facilitation, strategic leadership and technical support to the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council. Alison leads HPRC's Communications Working Group, where she works with council members to articulate the HPRC busi- ness case and drive HPRC awareness across multiple stakeholder groups. facilitycare.com FACILITYCARE | 15

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