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B.C. Lower Mainland’s Health Organizations Announce a Region-Wide Waste Diversion Program

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Image: Laurie Bork, medical technologist, with recycling bins in the Laboratory at Ridge Meadows Hospital

We are excited to announce the successful completion of a six-year program to implement recycling in B.C.’s Lower Mainland health-care sites. Starting with a pilot in 2009, Fraser Health, Providence Health Care, Provincial Health Services Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health are coordinating efforts to reduce recyclable materials and organics sent to landfill.

With implementation of standardized recycling bins at 57 hospitals and long-term care sites in the region now complete, staff, patients and visitors are recycling paper, plastic and metal containers and organics. Representing a geographic region of 36,303.31 kilometres, and total waste footprint of 22,943 tonnes, the recycling program was implemented by Lower Mainland Facilities Management and Lower Mainland Business Initiatives and Support Services.

Over 500 site-level recycling champions were recruited, helping to inform placement of recycling bins, recycling signage and resource materials, as well as educating fellow staff in their departments. Achieving a 37% average recycling rate in 2016, the aim is 50% by 2020.

Key learnings to date include the importance of:

  • Working with the vendor to determine what is and isn’t recyclable
  • Ongoing staff engagement programs around recycling
  • Recognizing the unique clinical context of recycling

As work continues to strengthen and sustain the program, next steps include improving educational materials and increasing accessibility of clinical staff to recycling education and communications.