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Recycling Program in OR?

boopette boopette (New) New

My hospital started a recycling program in the OR. Each room as a blue bin with green garbage bags specifically for garbage that can be recycled such as saline/water bottles, equipment boxes and packaging, clean garbage, any garbage opened at the beginning of the case etc. Basically anything CLEAN can go into these receptacles. Absolutely nothing with patient's body fluids or blood can go into this bin. We've had this program for a few months now and still there are some surgeons and residents who don't get it, even though they have been educated and made aware of the recycling program. When they break scrub they continue to put their soiled gowns in the bin, or soiled drapes. It really gets on my nerves. I tell them not to do it and they act like they're never heard of the program before.

I was just wondering if any of your hospitals/institutions have a program like this and how it's working out for you.

Mr. & Mrs. RN

Specializes in OR. Has 9 years experience.

We are only recycling paper wraps right now. Most people don't give a care. We have to make an effort to get a separate clear trash bag for them and I don't think I've seen anyone trying to do that.

yeah it just sucks when you're trying to do a good thing by recycling and all it takes is a soiled gown to ruin all of the goods


Specializes in OR.

We had a recycling program & lost it due to the issues you are describing... eg. assists putting bloody gloves in etc.

I think it is a very valuable part of OR nursing practice and have thought about it alot.

I was wondering if at least we could recycle when we (the OR nurses) have control over it.

For example when opening for a total hip, recycle all of the clean paper, then isolate it before anyone has a chance to contaminate it with body fluids, etc.

It would mean that we are only partially recycling but a little bit is better than nothing at all.


Specializes in Operating Room Nursing. Has 6 years experience.

I think recycling can work but not the way it's currently being managed in my department.

They expect you to separate the paper from the plastics. Plastics in one basket, paper in the other. When I recycle at home all the paper and plastics go together. A lot of our sterile items come with paper on one side, plastic on the other so the circulating nurse is expected to have to separate all of this. It's noisy, it takes the attention of the circulator away from the patient and some of the stuff is hard to separate, for example blakes drain wrappers.

The recycling baskets then have to be taken to the paper and plastic recycling bins which aren't emptied often enough so there's nowhere to put the stuff and it piles up.

The nurse who is in charge of the recycling program refuses to listen to our concerns on why it isn't working and how we think it could be improved and just responds with 'if you wanted to do it you would'. The attitude from the rest of us towards her and her program is 'well sorry, if you don't listen to us, we won't bother then.'


Specializes in Perioperative Nursing - ENT, CTC, Vasc.. Has 7 years experience.

People aren't using ours too much. And one reason is because our reps told us we could put bloody things in it, but the bins don't get emptied every day so we haven't wanted to put bloody things in it and let them sit in the O.R. Gross.

Our hospital has even ordered smaller sharps bins so that we can't fit the long ligaclips and those kinds of things that used to just get put into the sharps bins. To encourage us to put them in the green bins.

Sister Fox

Specializes in Operating Theatre and Occ. Health.

Well, if people still insist on sending instruments and bedpans to the laundry, what makes you think they are fastidious enough to be into recycling! heehee.gif

At the University of Arkansas, for Medical Sciences, D. Rowland R.N. started a recycling program.

In this venture we placed all CLEAN packaging and wrappers into clear bags prior to a patient entering the OR. Bags were labeled and placed in the sub-sterile area adjacent to the OR being used.

Lectures and demonstrations were provided for staff.

Because only that trash generated prior to the patient entering the OR was placed into the bags the issue of "folks" not realizing they are placing soiled garments, etc. into the bags was a non issue.

Edited by Chicano nurse
removing name from bottom of post

Not listening? The coordinator should explore the possible use of volunteers to separate the refuse off site. Circulators have many responsibilities in the peri-operative setting. The coordinator may be overwhelmed with other duties to realize that adding a time consuming task adds to the busy list of tasks for the nurses.