(C-8) Clinical Recycling at Stanford Health Care: Building Shared Solutions to Global Recycling Challenges

Nautilus 5

Before 2017, a five-year effort by Stanford Health Care had steadily built an extensive clinical recycling program which was active in every clinical department of the hospital, diverted 150 tons of material from landfill per year, and included 165 volunteer recycling champions. In early 2017, a new import policy enacted specific restrictions on a number of clinical recyclables. These sudden restrictions impacted the entire operation, requiring Stanford Health Care to pause the program and develop new solutions. As a result, during Earth Week 2017, the waste reduction team at Stanford Health Care was on a somber mission: to remove every recycling bin from all clinical settings in the hospital.

Luckily, because of tremendous support from hospital staff and department leadership, this setback was not the end of the program. Moreover, external partners like the City of Palo Alto and waste hauling companies saw Stanford Health Care as a key partner in meeting ambitious city zero waste targets. Working together, they refined the existing clinical recycling program.

Stanford Health Care’s work in 2017 and 2018 includes piloting new solutions, estimating impact, and taking the new program to scale. As the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area are at the forefront of national zero waste efforts, Stanford Health Care’s challenges represent an early example of coming restrictions on health care recyclables. In this session, they will share their story and their progress so far.