April 19th, 2010

Great River Medical Center is proud of its growing waste line. In 2009, 30 percent of the total waste it produced was recycled, keeping nearly 382,000 pounds of garbage out of the landfill. That's more than the weight of a fully loaded 400-passenger Boeing 747 jet.

The hospital's recycling efforts have increased 10 percentage points in just two years. In 2007, it recycled 250,000 pounds of waste, including batteries, cardboard, cooking oil, light bulbs, magazines, monitors, motor oil, newspapers, paper, plastic, tin cans, wood pallets and X-ray film.

In May 2009, the Surgical Services Department began recycling the blue sterile draping used to wrap instruments after they are sterilized in Surgical Supply and Processing. Up to 25 pounds of draping is collected each day six days a week, which adds up to 7,800 pounds a year. The department also recycles plastic from surgical prep kits.

"We're working on more ideas to increase our recycling to 35 percent next year," said Carl Behne, supervisor, Environmental Services.

Besides saving the environment, recycling saves money. Last year, the hospital saved $9,100 in waste-management fees, and it received nearly $3,700 in the sale of recyclable materials.

To celebrate Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, a tree will be planted on the south side of the lake. The trees between the sidewalk and lake help prevent soil erosion.