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America Recycles Day is November 15

November 6, 2017

Across the country, organizations will be celebrating America Recycles Day on November 15.  Many VA hospitals have accomplished a great deal in recycling, reducing waste, and reducing costs.  VA’s Waste Management and Recycling Program is administered through environmental management systems at all Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities.  In FY 2016, through recycling and other measures, VHA diverted 41% of its municipal solid waste (MSW) from landfills.

Getting Started

With the efforts of a committed employee or team, VA facilities can make great strides in recycling materials that were previously going in the trash.  For example, with a new environmental manager, Southern Louisiana Veterans Health Care System recently started up recycling efforts for several materials, including batteries, toner, plastics and aluminum.  At the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, a group of employees set the goal to raise awareness and improve recycling.  They conducted research on recycling availability and use, including surveys and observation.  Outreach posters were displayed by recycling bins and the team hosted a booth at the facility Earth Day event to educate and engage employees, volunteers, visitors, and Veterans in recycling.

Setting Targets for Improvement

VA Medical Center-Wilmington established a facility-wide recycling baseline and is achieving its targets for recycling improvement.  Cardboard, paper, plastic, tin, aluminum, cooking oil, used printer cartridges, scrap metals, waste medical solvents and e-waste are collected and recycled routinely as part of the pollution prevention and cost-saving effort.  The initiatives generate thousands of dollars of cost-savings and revenue.

Focused Initiatives

The Minneapolis VA Medical Center won recognition as a Top 25 environmentally-responsible hospital nation-wide from the non-profit organization Practice Greenhealth.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also recognized the facility for reducing printer paper by 44 percent and saving $125,600, while using 30% recycled content paper.  This was achieved through a focus on switching to electronic documents and double-sided printing.  The initiative featured a cross-disciplinary approach, including efforts from Logistics, Nursing Education, and Information Technology.

These are just a few of the many recycling efforts across VA.  How can your facility step up its recycling efforts to generate savings and improve environmental responsibility?  Learn more at the FedCenter Recycling page and America Recycles Day.

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