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RRP: Recycling Questions? Ask Sonja & Helen

Recycling Questions? Ask Sonja & Helen

Each month, Recycling Renewal Program (RRP) Coordinators, Sonja and Helen, answer your questions on what can and cannot be recycled at Health Authority owned hospital and residential care sites, where the RRP has been implemented
Recycling in health care facilities is different to recycling at home or in an office. Our facilities generate biomedical waste, so our recyclables pose a higher risk to recycling vendor staff that sort items by hand. We want to help ensure you have the information you need to dispose of your waste items correctly.

Missed previous editions?

We post the recycling question and answer series with photos and posters on the BCGreenCare.ca site here.
Edition #7: Paper towels & napkins

Where should I dispose of paper towels and napkins at Lower Mainland hospitals and residential care facilities?
Dispose of paper towels and napkins  in either the Garbage or the Food Scraps & Food Soiled Paper recycling bin available in 13 acute care sites across FH, VCH, PHC and PHSA (see below for specific sites).

Q. Why can’t I recycle paper towels or napkins in the Mixed Paper bin? 

There are two reasons why our recycling vendor doesn’t accept paper towels or napkins in the mixed paper bin:
1. Only clean paper is allowed; nothing that has been soiled with food or liquid.
2. Considered low quality because they’re made with a high percentage of recycled paper.
This is why paper towels and napkins must be placed in the garbage.

Q. But what about the Metro Vancouver organics disposal ban?

In 2015, Metro Vancouver initiated an organics disposal ban of all compostable material, including food. This means raw food, plate scrapings, leftovers, and some food soiled paper, such as, pizza boxes or used table napkins are now banned from garbage. Any waste loads with more than 25% visible food are now being surcharged. 
At our sites, kitchens are the largest generator of food waste. Since 2013, almost all acute care sites have been recycling left over food scraps from food prep and patient trays.

Q. But what if my site has a food scraps recycling bin? 

Any site with a food scraps and food soiled paper recycling bin in the cafeteria can accept paper towels and napkins, as these will be taken for composting at a different recycling facility. 
You will find food scraps and food soiled paper recycling bins in cafeterias at: 
· PHC: St. Paul’s Hospital, Mount Saint Joseph;
· VCH: UBC Hospital, GF Strong, Richmond Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital;
· FH: Royal Columbian Hospital, Burnaby Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital; Ridge Meadows; and
· PHSA: Children’s and Women’s Hospital and the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Center. 
Find out more about what can go into the Food scraps and food soiled paper recycling bins here.

Send us your questions!

Unsure about what can and can’t be recycled and why? Or do you have an inspiring story about recycling in your unit? 

Send an email to marianne.dawson@fraserhealth.ca. We will include your question in a future edition or contact you directly.