Recycling efforts at KU hospital have cut down the amount of waste it sends to local landfills by more than a half million pounds. The two-year decline has caught the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency, which recently awarded the hospital a national achievement award for waste reduction.
Jim Callier, the EPA’s pollution prevention and solid waste program manager for this region, says such efforts are critical for saving valuable resources and curbing harmful emissions.
“Americans generate approximately 250 million tons of trash,” says Callier. “Only about 34 percent of that material is recycled or composted [nationwide].”
The hospital stepped up its recycling efforts a couple years ago at the urging of several dozen staff members. Dwight Kasperbauer, Vice President of Operations, says the efforts have brought added benefits.
“Anything we can do to reduce our carbon footprint makes good sense as stewards,” says Kasperbauer. “But there’s also been some economic benefit from it. Some of the things we recycle we get paid for - for example, cardboard.”
Kasperbauer also estimates cardboard recycling has reduced the total waste the hospital sends to landfills by about a third.
The hospital is one of several hundred organizations taking part in a national EPA waste reduction program. UMKC recently signed on and is targeting cafeterias and vendors to reduce food waste.