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Blue Wrap Recycling at The Miriam Hospital: A Q&A With Monica Anderson, Community Liaison

8/26/2014

Community liaison Monica Anderson talks about The Miriam Hospital’s blue wrap recycling and recognition the hospital has received for its recycling efforts.

What is blue wrap?

Blue Wrap is a sterile guard material used in hospital operating rooms to transport equipment from a sterile environment, through a non-sterile environment, and back into the operating field. Bulky, heavy and costly, blue wrap comprises 20 percent of operating room waste and 5 percent of total hospital waste. It can’t be reused for its original purpose, and when disposed of rather than recycled, it takes more than 400 years to decompose. Our operating room team was very driven to start separating blue wrap from our regular trash and recycling it. The Miriam Hospital cares about sustainability and believes in leading the charge to have hospitals and health care be green and sustainable, improving our environment and community health.

Why and how does The Miriam Hospital recycle blue wrap?

The blue wrap is collected in the operating rooms and then the hospital’s Environmental Services Department delivers the blue wrap in bags to the recycling room. It is baled and picked up by Claflin, our main partner in our blue wrap recycling effort, who stores the bales until enough have accumulated and can be transported by recyclers. In 2013, we diverted over 2.5 tons of blue wrap from the Central Landfill.

What is the Blue Wrap Blue Jean Ball and what does it signify?

Put together by Hospitals for a Healthy Environment in Rhode Island, the Blue Wrap Blue Jean Ball is a celebration of environmental sustainability in Rhode Island health care that helps raise funds for education and programs tackling climate-change initiatives in hospitals throughout the state. It is a sustainability awards and recognition program that also showcases blue wrap re-use through glamorous and creative up-cycled designs. In addition to a sustainability awards program presented by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Rhode Island environmental leaders, awards are given to groups and individual with the best blue wrap creations. The Miriam Hospital won the 2014 Waste Reduction award for recycling 22 percent of our total waste, while also reducing the creation of waste. This increase in the hospital’s waste reduction was achieved through incorporating single stream recycling into the facility. A campaign was launched in the summer of 2013, encouraging every hospital department to create a “recycling zone” and begin co-mingling all recyclable items in blue bins. An interdepartmental competition was held to determine by weight which department could recycle the most materials. The laboratory won by recycling 656 pounds of items in a three-week period. Pharmacy was a close second recycling 647 pounds.