University Hospitals Health System | RMW Reduction

Since 2008, University Hospitals Health System (UH) has been working to reduce regulated medical waste (RMW) it produced.  In 2008 and 2011, red bag audits were conducted in five clinical divisions at UH Case Medical Center and UH Ahuja Medical Center by representatives from the Office of Sustainability, Environmental Services, Pediatrics and Nursing. These audits indicated that the amount of RMW was significantly higher than need be. The organization launched an educational campaign complete with a “red bag toolkit.” 

In 2012, UH partnered with a consulting firm to develop and implement a waste management program. It conducted employee education and engagement that included multimedia communications and ongoing waste training and audits.  UH continued to use its “red bag toolkit” as a resource for waste reduction, and used the toolkit content in mandatory safety in-service training for clinical staff.  Additionally, new UH employees received a demonstration and presentation on waste segregation focused on red bag waste minimization. 

These efforts improved the quality of waste segregation at UH, yielding “cleaner” single-stream recycling and cardboard containers at waste docks.  As a result, UH Case Medical Center and UH Bedford Medical Center achieved a 6.2 percent and 5 percent RMW rates respectively.  The organization’s focus on waste segregation also helped it expand recycling, launching single-stream recycling programs and swapping out more than 1,000 trash bins for green-lined recycling bins.