Sustainability Consulting in the Healthcare Sector (Medical Waste Plan)

Medical waste is one of the most expensive types of trash. Those red biohazard garbage bags? Budget busters. They cost up to 17 times more to dispose of than regular garbage or recycling. Reducing red bag waste is key to conserving costs and building a healthcare sustainability program.

Our waste audits will begin by diagnosing your operations. Then we’ll move on to making them better. We’ll not only make sure you meet biohazardous waste safety requirements, but we’ll ensure you do so as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Based on extensive field experience, Reduction In Motion provides sustainability consultations that are proven, cutting-edge examinations of your facility’s waste management operations. We’ve been “trash talking” for over 15 years, implementing medical waste management solutions that have saved our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Our clients have won more than 130 sustainability awards for their waste management and other sustainability programs. No other company providing medical sustainability consulting can match that.

A Quick Overview of What We’ll Do For You

First, we’ll gather data on your waste disposal systems. Then we’ll design better procedures for them. And not only for handling your healthcare waste materials. We’ll also design better landfill diversion, recycling, and composting systems for the non-medical waste streams that are part of your facility’s daily operations.

We’ve been there and done that for a number of medical facilities and even health systems already — along with our many office park, stadium, and higher education clients as well.

Our client base includes many large organizations and we’ve encountered the anxiety that undertaking a major waste management transformation can cause. But we know the ropes. We have a good bedside manner.

We’ll concentrate on diverting waste into the proper stream and ensuring that important biohazardous regulations continue to be met. But we’ll also ensure that waste that does not need to be in the most expensive stream — Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) — is diverted elsewhere.

Just as a patient is studied with a trained eye using clinical methodology — resulting in the best diagnosis — our waste audits will study your hospital waste management procedures and then provide the best treatment options.

On average, we’ve helped our clients segregate 113 million pounds of waste annually. We’ll figure out what’s in your trash and where it needs to go.

What we do is healthcare sustainability consulting. Among other things, we help you cut down on the amount of biohazardous waste you’re paying to dispose of.

Narrowing the Funnel on the RMW Stream

Medical Waste Image

The most important savings target will be the material that is ending up in the RMW stream that shouldn’t be. Hospitals often over-classify waste, resulting in non-RMW material — gloves, packaging, recyclables, etc. — ending up in the red bags of the RMW stream.

We want you to have fewer and smaller red bags of RMW. Think of them as green bags of money that you’re throwing away.

Why? Because that waste stream is up to 17 times more expensive to dispose of than non-RMW. That’s a huge source of savings that a thorough, professional waste audit can identify and then control.

The low-hanging fruit — which we know how to pick — is ensuring that the RMW red trash cans are used only for waste requiring that level of expensive handling and disposal. Materials that have been exposed to only a trace amount of blood are not required to be handled as RMW — only soaked or saturated materials have to be treated as such. It’s a tricky separation task, but we know it can be done.

Installing new equipment, implementing new policies, training staff, providing technical assistance, and doing follow-up audits that make the sorting of RMW from non-RMW routine is a cornerstone of our medical waste sustainability consulting service.

An added benefit of cutting down on the RMW stream is also cutting down on the amount of material being incinerated. This cuts down on particulate-matter air pollution, which is a win for everyone. With more money in your budget and cleaner air, you can rest a little easier!

We Start with Diagnostics

All of our sustainability initiatives start with a thorough waste audit of your facility. This is the diagnostic phase.

We’ll not only conduct sub-audits on critical medical units such as the OR, ICU, patient rooms, and pathology labs that are likely to produce RMW, but also on your overall operations. We’ll be looking for the same savings that we find for our non-medical clients.

Though the savings are not as profound, ensuring that biodegradables and recyclables are separated out from the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream can result in additional cost savings as well.

We start with an onsite visual analysis of your facility. Everything from signage to floor plans to everyday operations will be examined. Waste hauling invoices will be combed over. Existing equipment specs will be pondered. Potential new equipment will be researched. Questions will be asked, and assumptions will not be made.

Then we’ll discuss ways to change your current practices, develop a timeline for implementing different aspects of a new system, and plan the “soft rollout” that will work out the bugs in the system before full implementation.

We help you cut down on the amount of biohazardous waste you’re paying to dispose of. Let’s chat today!


The Treatment Phase

Once we’ve gotten a diagnosis –a thorough picture of your operations and what areas need attention- we’ll move on to the treatment phase. We’ll produce professional-level documentation of the data we’ve collected and share it with key members of your management team. We’ll build a compelling argument that can be presented to upper management that will win approval for implementing our recommendations.

Our full-service sustainability audit will include project timelines, budgets, and the policies and procedures that will be necessary to not only rollout the program, but to ensure its long-term success.

The new program will include both physical changes to the workspace and training for staff.

New waste collection bins, signage, and labeling might all be part of a new program; shaking up the “routine” visuals of the workplace can be an important step in the process. New technology for better record keeping and more efficient waste collection may come online.

Training will be focused on several different categories of employees, including clinicians who are on the “frontline” and the custodial staff that is dealing with both RMW and non-RMW behind the scenes.

Good Treatment Requires Good Follow-Up

In the aftermath of a hospital waste audit and sustainability consultation, we will conduct multiple post-implementation audits to ensure that the program is operating as we envisioned.

We’ll have our baseline data from what we tracked initially and will be able to zero in on what’s working and what isn’t. We’ll have the information needed to decide if and where tweaking is needed.

The Details: Diagnostics

waste data report example

Once again, our preliminary work will focus on getting a good baseline. We’ll use waste data tracking, including examining in detail invoices from the previous 12-month period, to get a handle on the status quo at your facility.

This baseline serves two main purposes. First, we begin to see what’s working and what’s not and begin building an action plan for your facility. Second, after implementation of your waste management plan we will have hard data with which to track what’s working well and what needs more attention.

Our invoice analysis will also allow us to see how equipment is currently utilized. This may let us see efficiencies that can be introduced in your waste equipment service schedules. It’s also not unheard of that we’ll find billing errors with trash haulers as part of our data tracking. It’s happened before and has resulted in billing rebates for our clients.

In addition, matching invoices with our onsite auditing can ensure that hauling fees are kept to a minimum. We’ll determine a schedule to make sure equipment is only hauled away when dumpsters are close to capacity. This will cut down on tipping fees over the long run.

In some cases we’ve helped develop new “request for proposal” (RFP) language that better integrates sustainability measures and performance indicators. This can lead to the selection of more suitable and efficient waste haulers or a better contract with your current hauler.

The Details: Treatment

As we’ve already mentioned, the primary low-hanging fruit is making sure that the RMW stream is free of non-RMW material. But in any large facility there is usually some other low-hanging fruit to be had.

With regards to recyclables, a similar dynamic is at work. It’s commonly cheaper to dispose of recyclable material by recycling it, as opposed to the material ending up in the waste stream headed for the landfill. But if refuse does not get segregated at the source then it’s harder — and more expensive — to separate downstream.

Like the waste audits we do for our office park, stadium, and higher education clients, we’ll do a general facility sustainability audit of your operations. Not only the areas where direct medical care takes place, but also areas such as the pharmacy, offices, food services, supply rooms, and waiting rooms will be examined.

We’ll monitor — at the source — where trash first leaves someone’s hand, including in individual patient rooms which usually only have a trash can. Then we’ll keep an eye on the waste stream as it works its way to the loading dock. We’ll identify issues and backtrack to where problems start, recommending physical and operational changes that will create better waste minimization and diversion programs.

Given our experience, we’re also aware of obscure waste streams and solutions in dealing with them. Linen rag out donations, food donations to local shelters, furniture and equipment donation opportunities, battery recycling, eyeglass donations, and toner recycling are all on our list. We also understand OSHA standards and medical regulations, so we’ll always stay focused on safety issues and compliance standards.

Part of our experience is also working with and negotiating with trash haulers. We know their business, what they need, and what they can provide. We can be the point of contact with them as new systems are put into place and we’ll work with them to smooth out any kinks in the new system.

We’ve handled the rollout of new programs. We understand that training all levels of the workforce is crucial and has to be handled with respect and open communication.

Change is not always welcomed. But we’ll work hard to listen to your employees’ concerns and ideas — and since they know the facility, we’ll treat them as the great resource that they are — and do all we can to get buy-in for the new waste management programs we design.

Our team averages 500 education sessions every year. We seem to know what we’re doing; employees give us a 97% satisfaction rate in post-training surveys.

We’ll conduct small person-to-person training sessions with staff. We’ll explain the big picture and then the details. We don’t use off-the-shelf online training software. We talk. We listen.

The establishment of “green teams” or “sustainability leadership councils” is often a good start. These cooperative ventures can help establish goals and ways to pursue those goals. Through them we introduce some of the cutting-edge developments in the sustainability sector; outside the realm of waste, such as reducing chemical contamination of the environment (like antibiotics leaching into water supplies), supporting local sustainable food production, and environmentally preferable purchasing.

The Details: Follow-Up

With the thorough knowledge of your facility that we’ve developed and the hard data we’ve collected, we can conduct follow-up audits and consultations. We’ll monitor employee participation and record-keeping systems.

We’ll be able to produce waste data snapshots moving forward and conduct onsite assessments as needed. Current practices will be continually reviewed and opportunities to increase the success of your waste programs will be scrutinized. We’ll help you squeeze out every percentage point of waste reduction. And those percentage points are dollars saved.

As your program succeeds, together we’ll explore new ways to integrate sustainability in you your operations. Lastly, but certainly not least- recognition is important. We’ll handle sustainability award applications that will make your efforts public knowledge. We’ve helped our clients receive over 130 environmental excellence awards. You’ve put in the hard work, so we’ll help identify how to share your successes.

What we do is healthcare sustainability consulting. Among other things, we help you cut down on the amount of biohazardous waste you’re paying to dispose of.