GreenCare Champion: Elaine Apel
Health authority: Fraser Health
Facility: Langley Memorial Hospital
Position: Manager, Support Services & Food Operations
Interviewed: December 22, 2015
GreenCare profile of Elaine Apel, whose proactive and collaborative approach to the Recycling Program at Langley Memorial Hospital has garnered excellent results.
Q. What is your role at Langley Memorial Hospital?
“I’m the manager, Support Services and Food Operations. I manage the Food & Nutrition department, and I manage various outsourced service providers, including Housekeeping, Laundry, Waste Management, Retail Food Services and Vending.”
Q. What inspired you to get involved in the recycling program/as a Recycling Champion?
“Our Recycling Program was implemented at Langley Memorial Hospital in December 2014. When I met with Ashley and Sonja, the coordinators, it made sense for me to be in a lead role, as I work closely with Housekeeping and Waste Management services. Our success is based on our coordinated efforts. Without everyone on board — Housekeeping, Recycling Champions, unit managers and leadership — it wouldn’t be as successful as it is.”
Q. So are you a Recycling Champion?
“Our Purchaser/Food Service Supervisor Karen Self is our Recycling Champion, in Food & Nutrition. She conducts our bi-annual waste and recycling audits. She is passionate about waste segregation.”
Q. What inspires you to be involved in recycling in the work that you do?
“We all have a responsibility to care for our world, and I’m happy to do my part. Whether I’m at home or at work, we have to think of the whole system. Last weekend, I volunteered at a church Christmas Fair. We provided lunch to a large group of people. I was impressed with their waste and recycling stations, including a brown bag for organic waste. They knew how to segregate waste because they had taken the time to educate themselves. We need to do the right thing, and do it correctly.”
Q. Tell us about the proactive approach you are using.
“Ashley provided a number of training sessions for all Recycling Champions and Housekeeping. Before we rolled out our Recycling Program, she had trained 35 Recycling Champions, from every unit across the site. They’re a big part of our success!
“I agreed to chair our Recycling committee. I am fortunate to work with a group of really smart and keen individuals spread throughout the site. They are the eyes and ears of the Program and ensure our collective success. We started with monthly meetings and now have quarterly meetings, as we are further along and this seems sufficient for the team. At these meetings, we review the audit results to measure how we’re doing, we share new information, and we troubleshoot any issues. We are not quite where we need to be, with 72% of bins having no contamination, but we can see what we need to do to improve and we address any issues right away.
“Recycling is on the agenda at site leadership meetings, which include managers from every department, as well as directors of operations. Everyone is informed. They know what the bins look like and how to use them. In the end, implementation across the site took place over just one week.”
Q. What are your challenges/success?
“The recycling containers and signage are visible and look very professional throughout the site. As a result, there is a good deal of awareness about it, and it remains top of mind. We walked through the hospital, agreed where it made sense to place them, as well as worked on education with staff and Housekeeping to ensure minimal contamination.
“One of our challenges is that we need to stay on top of bin cleaning, making sure the bins are well presented. Keeping our environment clean, helps others to respect the space and equipment too. We are serious about recycling, and we want to model that, and hopefully everyone who comes to LMH will take it seriously too.
“We will continue to learn and improve. And the biggest success, as I’ve mentioned before, is that it is a team effort. Working with such proactive and collaborative people is the key to our success.”