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OR nurses go green: blue wrap recycling program up & running.

Hollie: Describe the blue wrap recycling program.

Monique: The recycling program keeps Kimguard, a "spun polypropylene" product from ending up in the landfill. Kimguard is a plastic and doesn't biodegrade easily. Most sterile instrument sets that we use in the Operating Room (OR) are wrapped in blue wrap as part of the sterilization process.

The Central Sterile Reprocessing Department has been great in trying to reduce the amount of blue wrap we use by buying more closed steel instrument cases to sterilize instrument sets, but some sets are too large for the cases or they don't make cases for odd size sets. Fletcher Allen buys, on average, 16 tons of blue wrap per year! Before the patient comes into each OR, the sterile instrument sets are opened, and the blue wrap is discarded. Everything that is generated as waste before that patient gets to the room is clean, and we would have full bags of garbage before the case begins. We started basic recycling in the OR over a year ago with co-mingled #1- #7 plastics, glass, and cardboard. It was a natural transition to try to find a vendor who would recycle the blue wrap, and we did!

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Hollie: Who collects the blue wrap? Nurses, techs, others?

Monique: Everyone! Everything we need for each surgery comes to the room in a "case cart." As the nurses and techs are opening the sterile instruments for each surgery they set the blue wrap aside. Labels and tape are removed from the blue wrap (as these items are considered contaminants in the recycling process. The blue wrap is placed into a box that contained supplies on the case cart. Once filled, the boxes are collected and put in a common area where they are consolidated to maximize the amount of blue wrap in each box. The hospital's Distribution staff collects the boxes and delivers them to the Fletcher Allen supply warehouse where the boxes are palletized, shrink wrapped and stored until the recycling company comes to pick them up. Only blue wrap opened prior to the beginning of surgery is collected and removed in the boxes. Anything blue wrap generated once the surgery is underway is considered "contaminated" and discarded.

Hollie: How much blue wrap is collected each day/week/month?

Monique: We average about 6 large boxes each day, Monday - Friday. The blue wrap is light weight and fluffy so we can compress it and put a lot into each box. After 12 days of collection, we've sent 44 boxes to the warehouse.

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Hollie: Where is it sent and what happens to it?

Monique: The blue wrap is collected by Canusa Hershman, a recycling company in St Albans. Canusa Hershman has agreed to bale the material and market the blue wrap to a recycling vendor that will process the polypropylene wrap into plastic pellets to make new products.

Q&A with Monique Citro - by Hollie Shaner-McRae, DNP, RN, FAAN
COPYRIGHT 2012 Vermont State Nurses Association, Inc.
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Author:Shaner-McRae, Hollie
Publication:Vermont Nurse Connection
Article Type:Interview
Date:Mar 29, 2012
Words:492
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