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UMass Memorial Wins EPA Recycling Award

Every time someone drops a bottle, plastic container or magazine into the proper recycling bin, it makes a big difference.

In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the 2017 WasteWiseNew England Regional Achievement awards and UMass Memorial Health Care was one of just four Massachusetts entities to be recognized for reducing its waste stream. Efforts across UMass Memorial Health Care’s campuses boosted regular recycling by some 10 percent compared to the previous year. 

“For an institution the size and complexity of UMass Memorial Health Care, increasing recycling takes a commitment from everyone involved, and we’ve had just that” said Suzanne Wood, sustainability and energy manager at UMass Chan Medical School who also supports recycling programs for the clinical system.

UMass Memorial continues to promote recycling programs throughout its facilities by increasing recycling bins in patient waiting areas, nurse’s stations, and nutrition rooms. Customized visual recycling and trash signs are strategically placed to help patients, visitors, and staff quickly identify what materials are recyclable.

UMass Memorial diverted 1,192 tons of waste by recycling in 2016 (the most recent year for available EPA data). Factoring out construction and demolition materials, which can vary greatly from year to year, the clinical system’s recycling of typical operational items was up 10 percent. That included an additional 32 tons of cans, bottles, plastics and non-confidential paper (single-stream) and 48 tons of shredded paper (HIPPA) recycled in 2016.

All told in 2016, the EPA worked with 41 New England-based WasteWise partners who collectively prevented and recycled over 242,000 tons of waste.  Nationally, WasteWise partners reported preventing and diverting 8.5 million tons of waste that would otherwise have been disposed in landfills or incinerators.

WasteWise Program is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of all kinds of materials.

“EPA’s WasteWise program helps organizations and businesses apply sustainable materials management practices to prevent and reduce municipal and select industrial wastes, saving them resources and money,” said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. “Our 2017 regional winners exemplify both good environmental stewardship and good business sense, and we encourage others to follow their lead.”

Of note, in 2016 the medical school won the EPA WasteWise partner of the year award last year, for recycling efforts on campus that included programs in the UMass Memorial Medical Center’s facilities housed on the school’s Worcester campus. Read about that here: