As the founder of the German Green Party, Petra Kelly once said “If we don’t do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.” It is time we answered Kelly’s call to action and set into motion the necessary steps to revitalize the earth, such as, integrating recycling programs within local communities. The simple practice of generating new uses for discarded materials conserves natural resources, reduces air pollution, saves energy and downsizes landfills. For example, if everyone in the country recycled a newspaper a week thirty-six million trees a year would be saved.

There are six steps involved with setting up a recycling program in a healthcare facility:

  1. Consult a waste collection service
  2. Determine what is needed
  3. Gather equipment
  4. Organize
  5. Roll out the program
  6. Maintain program

This guide will outline each of these steps in detail and how to use them implement a successful recycling program.

Step 1: Consult a Waste Collection Service

Before introducing a program determine what type of recycling is possible for the area. Contact the local municipality and find out who collects waste and recyclables for healthcare facilities in the area. When contacting the municipality evaluate their customer satisfaction and collection costs.

Each community has a different procedure for collecting recyclables. Find out from the waste hauler what the collection requirements are in the area including:

  • What types of materials are collected
  • How materials are separated
  • What color schemes are used
  • What types of containers are accepted
  • When are materials collected
  • How much does it cost
  • What type of areas work with the collection trucks
  • What happens when the program requirements change

Step 2: Determine What Is Needed

Determine how much and what type of waste is generated in the facility. Apply it to the specifications provided by the hauler and the anticipated level of traffic for the area. Together this information will provide what is needed for the recycling program to run. For example, a hospital may require several container combinations for various recycling programs. The type of recycling bin which will work best will depend on how often it will be emptied, the amount of people contributing to it, possible janitorial services and the size of the area.

A great way to determine what is needed for a recycling program is by seeking the input and approval of those in the space. Applying the advice of staff, guests and residents can encourage future program use. It can also ensure that an appropriate recycling program is selected by those who will be using it.

Step 3: Gather Recycling Equipment

Now that the specific needs of the program have been determined the equipment can be purchased. Consult a recycling bin manufacturer for program ideas and container solutions. Ensure that the bins selected are easy to use, efficient and environmentally sound.

Easy to use recycling containers should be versatile and custom designed to work with any environment. There are different bin features available which make participation in a recycling program easier such as:

  • Mountable bins for increased surface space
  • Desk side bins for increased leg room
  • Stackable containers for easy storage
  • Large wheeled or lidded containers for easy transportation

Select the container which makes the most sense for the area it will be placed in.

Containers should feature the correct combination of visual indicators and sorting mechanisms to maximize the ease in use. Use clearly marked labels, shaped deposit slots and different color options.  These tools will allow staff, guests and residents to quickly identify what the bin is designed to collect.

Implementing plastic containers which are environmentally sound can assist a recycling program. Select containers which are 100% recyclable, made with a minimum of 35% recycled content and complimented by matching waste baskets. Containers meeting these requirements will maximize the results of a healthcare recycling program as they have green solutions built right in.

North American made containers have a reduced impact on the environment. Local products will reduce air pollution resulting from overseas shipping and toxins from foreign containers. Also, if the recycling bins are within arm’s reach they will be easier to replace or distribute in the future should new containers be needed.

Product Recommendations

Busch Systems offers an extensive line of recycling and waste container solutions. The type of bin to select for a healthcare facility will depend on how it will be used. There are four categories to consider when selecting recycling containers for a healthcare facility: individual, shared, outdoor and secure. Listed below are product recommendations for each category:

  1. Individual recycling containers are for areas occupied by one person, such as, offices or workstations. The product best suited for this category is the ‘Recycling Basket’. The container is custom designed to fit seamlessly under desk drawers and can contain upward of seven gallons of recyclables. This bin is also available with a matching waste basket which can be hung alongside of it.
  2. Recycling containers designed for shared use target common areas, such as, cafeterias or staff lounges. The ‘Smart Sort’ collection is ideal for this environment.  It is available in large sizes and uses simplified sorting mechanisms.
  3. Outdoor recycling containers are for exterior facility use, such as, building entrances and smoking areas. The ‘Four in One HD’ recycling bin is best suited for this category as it has various collection slot options and fitted liners. This container consists of four compartments which are all able to collect twenty three gallons of waste or recyclables.
  4. Secure document storage containers are available for interior facility use. The ‘Shredinator’ series is equipped with tamper proofing mechanisms, different size options and are able to slide seamlessly beside or under desk drawers.

These are only a few of the recycling container solutions offered at Busch. To view the complete line of equally attractive alternatives please visit:

Step 4: Organize the Recycling Program

After a container is selected it must be incorporated into a well organized recycling program. The first step is assigning a program coordinator. This should be someone in the facility who is interested in taking charge of the program. Once the coordinator is made aware of their responsibilities they can ensure that the recycling program is always running smoothly.

The new candidate can begin their duties by selecting where the containers should go. When deciding where bins should be placed bear in mind other containers which may be in the environment, traffic, capacity and collection. The scheduling of container collection may be the deciding factor in determining where the bins should go. Placement options may be limited depending on the size of the collection vehicle and the accessibility of the area.

Suggested Green initiatives

Once the collection of recyclable material has been arranged other green initiatives can be considered. Listed below are a few suggestions for green practices which healthcare facilities can perform:

  • Using compact florescent bulbs
  • Investing in rechargeable batteries and battery chargers
  • Installing light switches that turn on/off depending if people are present
  • Having janitorial staff intersperse strong cleaners with less toxic, water based solutions
  • Building healing gardens

Step 5: Roll Out Program

Following the development of a recycling program is the execution. In order for the program to run smoothly the end user must be educated on how it operates and understand what the goals are. Rolling out the initiative will get those sharing the space excited about the program and motivated to use it.

Organize a meeting to roll out the recycling program to staff.  Educate them on how the program runs, what the goals are, who the program coordinator is and what everyone’s responsibilities are. At the meeting hand out pamphlets listing all information pertinent to the program and have staff distribute it to each room of the facility. Also, distribute the pamphlets to all current and future guests or residents.

Step 6: Maintain Program

Maintaining a recycling program is a critical component to ensuring its longevity and success. A large part of the upkeep process will be the responsibility of the program coordinator. They will need to constantly monitor the effectiveness of the program and find ways to improve it. The coordinator will also be responsible for keeping those in the facility enthused and new staff or guests educated on the program procedures.

There are several ways in which a program coordinator can keep up enthusiasm at a healthcare facility. For example, a record of the amount of recyclables leaving the facility can be stored and statistics can be generated on the materials recovered. These statistics could be sent out to the media, from which coverage of the facility may fallow. This will positively recognize the efforts of staff and encourage them to continue to recycling in the future.


In conclusion, the combined usage of the above six steps will enable a healthcare facility to incorporate an effective recycling program. The program should work toward conserving our natural resources and safeguarding our environment. Ideally, a new recycling program will allow future generations to flourish in what we have instead of flounder in what we have left behind.