What are some general rules of thumb of recycling?
- Any item with patient identifiers cannot be recycled
- Any item contaminated with bodily fluids cannot be recycled
- All confidential paper must be placed in confidential containers
- All food and beverage containers should be rinsed before recycling
- Any item with paper and plastic should be separated
What happens to recyclables?
- Glass bottles become new glass bottles.
- Aluminum cans are turned back into aluminum cans, and can be recycled almost indefinitely.
- Steel cans are used in other steel products such as car parts and construction materials, and can also be recycled over and over again.
- Plastic bottles are recycled into carpet, clothing, auto parts, and new bottles.
- Paper is recycled into new paper. Some grades of paper can be recycled up to seven times.
What is single stream recycling?
Single stream recycling means mixed paper, cardboard, plastics, glass and metal all go into the same green bin.
If something is not recyclable in the single stream process, what should I do with it?
There are multi-recycling stations located throughout some UW Health facilities for items that cannot be recycled in the single-stream process such as electronic media, batteries, writing utensils and eye glasses.
If you do not have one of these stations in your area, you can send your items to: Mail Code 0001 Attn: Multi-Recycling Station.
What should I do with unusable medical supplies?
- Surplus medical supplies can become unusable due to reasons such as: They have expired, sterility is compromised, the technology has changed or we have had a change in clinical practice.
- They can be sent to UWHC Central Services to attempt to be returned to the vendor. If the items cannot be returned, they will be donated to charitable organizations and individuals for use abroad on medical service or mission trips.
- If you aren’t sure whether or not your items can be repurposed, send them over and Central Services will make the determination.
- At the Clinical Science Center, you can drop off these items in Room D6/140. Some off-site locations may have a collection site.
- If yours does not, you can submit a service request to have Plant Engineering pick up the supplies.
Are there any initiatives underway to reduce the amount of cardboard packaging we encounter everyday?
We are working with vendors to reduce cardboard whenever possible.
Can broken glass be recycled?
Yes, but only broken glass bottles can be recycled
Can exam table paper be recycled? If so, where?
If it is not contaminated with bodily fluids, then yes. It can go in single-stream recycling.
Can clean, damp paper towels be recycled?
Yes, and it's helpful to have a recycling bin inside or right outside of bathrooms for this purpose.
Can latex gloves be recycled?
No, latex gloves cannot be recycled.
Can plastic food containers (e.g. yogurt, frozen entree, milk cartons) be recycled?
Yes, but please rinse them out first to maintain a clean environment for workers at the recycling plant.
Can plastic shopping bags be recycled?
Yes, plastic shopping bags (except black ones) can be recycled at most grocery stores. They can also be put in your recycling bin if grouped into one plastic bag the size of a basketball.
Can Styrofoam be recycled?
Yes, polystyrene (Styrofoam) can be recycled through the loading dock at University Hospital where it is then sent to Uniek in Waunakee. Uniek turns this old polystyrene into picture frames and other commercial products, completing the life cycle and providing responsible reuse for this potentially environmentally harmful product. To recycle polystyrene, simply drop off at the Environmental Service office located at D4/125 or send them through inter-departmental mail to the loading dock at Mail Code 1520, Attn: Joshua Churchill.
Can syringe wrappers with paper and plastic be recycled?
Yes, but the paper and plastic must be separated. Plastic wrappers must be grouped together in a larger plastic bag with other wrappers and bags.
Do we have to use plastic trash bags?
We actually have 100+ staff members who have volunteered not to use trash bags in their area. If you are in a non patient area and would like to go "bag-less", please contact the Director of Environmental Services at at (608) 263-6482.
How is paper placed in the blue recycling containers handled?
To ensure 100% HIPPA compliance, we treat all paper placed in the blue recycling bins as confidential materials. Confidential paper is placed in a separate waste stream that is shredded and then recycled by a licensed waste handler.
I see blue recycling bins and green recycling bins through the facility - what is the difference?
When recycling was first introduced at UWHC, all recycling was via a blue bin. This caused issues as some bins were just for paper, some were co-mingled recycling. To better differentiate our recycling waste streams, we have been slowly introducing green recycling containers.
- Green containers can be used for the disposal most recyclable materials - i.e. glass, aluminum, paper, plastics
- Blue recycling containers, eventually, be used solely for the recycling of paper at locations managed by UWHC Environmental Services teams
In the interim, both containers can be used for mixed recycling.
Should the biodegradable coffee cups and clamshells go in paper recycling or compost?
Biodegradable coffee cups and clamshells should go in recycling.
What is the best way to dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs?
Many fluorescent bulb suppliers will take back burnt out bulbs for recycling. At UW Health, Facilities and Engineering Services recycles them with UW-Madison's department of Environment, Health & Safety.
What recycling initiatives have been introduced or implemented by the Purchasing department?
Purchasing is working on developing a sustainability question/clause in our standard request for proposal (RFP).
Where can I learn more about what is recyclable or not?
Environmental Services has created a Recycling Information on their department page.
Where do I send the old cartridges/toners to be recycled?
Any used printer or copier cartridge from Gordon Flesch - whether it is from Sharp, Kyocera or an HP printer or copier - may be sent to the loading dock for recycling. Simply drop off at the Environmental Service office located at D4/125 or send them inter-departmental mail to the loading dock at Mail Code 1520, Attn: Joshua Churchill. Cartridges are picked up by UW-Madison SWAP. No special handling is required.
Where should staff put paper products for recycling if they are not confidential?
Non-confidential paper can go into the green "mixed" recycling containers.
Who can I contact if I have recycling needs or questions in my work area?
Email UW Health's Sustainability Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do the custodians change the plastic trash line every day?
Actually, this is only required in direct patient care areas or when the trash is wet. Environmental Services staff are encouraged to dump dry waste from the smaller containers into a larger container to save on plastic trash bag use. If you are in a non patient area and would like to go "bag-less", please contact the Director of Environmental Services at at (608) 263-6482.
Can vial caps be recycled?
Yes, vial caps can be recycled through a special system that we have set up through Terracycle. If the caps are clean and have NOT touched biohazardous, hazardous, or soiling material, they can be sent via inter-departmental mail to the loading dock at Mail Code 1520, Attn: Joshua Churchill.
Myth Busting with the City of Madison Recycling Expert (pdf)
Myth Busting with the City of Madison Recycling Expert (video)
Pellitteri Single-Stream Recycling Process
Warehouse And Recycling Place (WARP)