Operating a major medical center requires lots of materials, many of which end up in the landfill. As we work to achieve our Net Zero Waste goal (minimum 90% of all non-regulated waste diverted from landfill/incineration), it’s important to know what specific items are going to the landfill. We can then use this information to strategically guide our efforts.
Last year, we conducted a waste audit of 7 campus locations that capture 80% of the material sent to the landfill. Over the course of two months, over 3,000 pounds of trash were collected, sorted and measured. Major findings include the following:
We need your help to improve and stop recyclables from going to the landfill. The single most effective thing we can do today is to recycle materials, like pop cans or cardboard, that we can and should be recycling already. Wondering what materials can be recycled at the Med Center? Check out the LiveGreen Recycling page for details.
You may have heard stories about cities struggling to find markets for recyclable materials, in part due to changes China has made. While that is true, Omaha is still recycling. In order to ensure our items are recycled, we need to do two things: 1) Put the item in the correct bin. This means no trash in the recycling bin as well as no cardboard in the paper bin, etc. 2) Remove food/liquid prior to recycling. Items don’t need to be super clean, but remember this process isn’t completely automated, people are involved in the process. If too many items are too gross to process or put people at risk, the entire load is sent to the landfill.
What else can you do? Whenever possible, reduce. Using less is always the best first choice, and that counts towards our goal too. You can bring your own silverware rather than using single-use plasticware, use electronic versions rather than printing, etc.
Your actions matter, even a seemingly small change can help improve health (our mission!).