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New Recycling Opportunity Available to Maine Hospitals

Mid Coast Hospital Launches Maine's First Blue Wrap Recycling Program, Reducing Costs, Waste, and Environmental Impact
As part of it’s commitment to the health and well being of the Mid Coast community, Mid Coast Hospital has recently implemented a new recycling program that will reduce the amount of plastic disposed of at it’s Brunswick facility. The first of its kind in Maine, the new recycling program will serve as a model for other hospitals that are looking to reduce costs while caring for the environment.

Like all hospitals, the biggest contributor to the plastic waste at Mid Coast is the blue sterile wrap used to prevent contamination of medical supplies and surgical instruments. Made of chemical resistant polypropylene (plastic #5), “blue wrap” is not reusable and therefore must be disposed of after each use. Until now, Maine has not had a system in place for recycling this type of plastic causing hospitals to discard the non-biodegradable product with the regular trash, posing a threat to the environment.

“Mid Coast Hospital recognizes that by protecting our environment we are also taking care of our community,” said Molly Gardner, Linen and Waste Management Aide. “By participating in recycling efforts, we are not only reducing our impact on the environment, but we are reducing waste that is costly to dispose of. We can pass on those savings to our patients, contributing to the overall reduction of healthcare costs for our community.”

Mid Coast has been focusing on green initiatives for years, including the formation of an Environmental Impact Committee that makes recommendations on environmental concerns and programs to the hospital’s Senior Administration. Existing environmentally friendly programs include single stream recycling, mercury removal, latex reduction, energy efficient lighting, as well as a community drug collection program.

Gardner, along with a team of dedicated staff, worked diligently to identify a solution for the large amount of blue wrap generated by the hospital. Without a regional recycling program, it was not feasible to ship the bulky material far distances to coordinate with existing programs at out-of-state hospitals.
As a result of a collaboration between Kimberly Clark, Mid Coast’s supplier of blue wrap, and Pine Tree Waste & Casella Recycling, the hospital’s waste collection service, Mid Coast was able to establish a program to recycle not only the blue wrap, but other similar products including patient warming gowns, surgical drapes, booties, and masks. With the new process in place, these items are collected at the hospital and then bailed and shipped to a facility that will melt the material for repurposing into new plastic items such as totes, trash cans, and park benches.

Ralph Precopio, Territory Manager for Pine Tree Waste and Casella Recycling commented, “This new effort closes the loophole in Mid Coast’s exemplary recycling program.” He added, “Mid Coast is doing a great job. Since the new program began, we have already seen a measurable difference in the reduction of waste.” He expects that the new program will see a 15% decrease to the waste stream.

Gardner noted, “As healthcare costs continue to rise, it makes sense for all Maine hospitals to take advantage of this cost cutting measure. The more hospitals that join into the program the more economic and efficient it will become. Not to mention the greater impact that it will have on protecting our beautiful state.”

Area hospitals interested in learning more about Mid Coast’s blue wrap recycling initiative can contact Molly Gardner at (207) 373-6780, or mgardner@midcoasthealth.com

Read what the Bangor Daily News has to say about our waste recycling program!
 
 
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