to main content Sustainable Health Care Resource Center: Waste | The Joint Commission


Healthcare facilities produce numerous types of waste, including medical, pharmaceutical, hazardous, solid, and food waste. Waste management can be complex and challenging, however, poorly managed or irresponsible handling of waste can contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emission and other deleterious consequences. Understanding, identifying, and reducing these waste streams is crucial for improving your organization’s environmental footprint and maintaining public health and safety.

Strategies and Practices

  • Conduct a waste assessment to identify waste streams and reduction opportunities (REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE)
  • Develop and implement a resource stewardship program to avoid unnecessary material consumption
  • Switch (or limit) disposable products to reusable products (kitchen items/dishware, linens, surgical supplies)
  • Explore donation of medical and office equipment
  • Practice proper inventory management
  • Review OR practices/products for areas for improvement (surgical kits, replacing polypropylene wrap) "greening the OR"
  • Leverage purchasing power by selecting vendors with sustainable products
  • Participate in local food donation programs
  • Compost inedible and organic waste
  • Implement trayless dining
  • Practice sustainable and local/seasonal food purchasing
  • Add more plant-based foods to meals

Sources: AHRQ Primer, Practice Greenhealth, EPA 10 Step Blueprint Guide, National Academies of Medicine

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