Hospital project redesign of waste management concept in cooperation with personnel

News 2021-11-16 at 8:58
© JKMM Arkkitehdit Oy

Central Finland Health Care District (KSSHP) has been involved in the Circwaste project, and now the results are starting to show. The sub-projects of the health care district focused on the renewal of the waste management concept in a situation where operations were located in the old central hospital, and a new hospital was being built.

The aim was to build on the experience of the old hospital and develop an integrated waste management concept for the new hospital, where waste sorting would be as simple and uniform as possible from the user's point of view.

Another aim has been to develop a system for monitoring waste volumes. Waste volumes generated at KSSHP are monitored on a monthly and annual basis, both in terms of quantities and costs. A good monitoring system allows, for example, to identify areas for improvement in the sorting of waste at source.

Dialogue and sharing of good practices

Various waste management studies were carried out at the old hospital. During the project, very valuable information was obtained through dialogue with the staff. "When designing a new facility, it is important to listen to the staff and visit the site to see how, for example, waste sorting, packaging and various guidelines work in practice. There are many different types of units and departments in a hospital, and they are not directly comparable," says Minna Salonen, an environmental expert from the Central Finland Health Care District.

Measures have been taken to promote sorting and improve waste management, the effects of which are reflected in waste monitoring. Waste walks were carried out to familiarise people with the different units and the waste fractions they generate. The waste walks have highlighted the everyday challenges of waste sorting within the units.

Training sessions have been used to disseminate training material at departmental meetings to instruct staff in the units on how to correctly label and sort hazardous waste.

A staff survey on the use of organic food and waste sorting, carried out in 2018, also provided inspiration for improvement, for example, by increasing the number of collection bins for paper and data protection paper.

According to Salonen, the training material package is still under development, but she is convinced that the implementation of the new operating model has been a useful and educational experience.

"Reforming the operating model requires a starting point. In order to improve things, a lot of observation and interviews with representatives of different professional groups are needed to know how things have been implemented in practice in different units before the improvement measures," says Salonen.

The development work was carried out by a multi-professional team. This was seen as a very useful way to take the project forward. The Circwaste project also identified the need for an environmental expert and the creation of an environmental programme, and these were implemented.

Waste management in hospitals presents some challenging specificities

The hospital is a unique environment in terms of waste generation. Various regulations and rules govern waste management in hospitals. There are several factors that influence the amount of waste generated, for example, from the point of view of hygiene and the preservation of packaging. The amount of disposable products used is high, for example, in surgical operations.

The amount of waste generated is high, between 1,000 and 2,000 kg per day, including all waste fractions.

"Controlling the amount of waste generated by treatment operations is a challenge, as a lot of single-use products are used. In the hospital world, there is a wide range of waste management needs in different units. These issues are identified together with the units and we try to find the best solution together," says Salonen.

Sorting at place and procurement are key

Waste logistics is a large entity. Waste volumes can best be controlled upstream through material procurement and effective sorting at the place where the waste is generated.

Hospital operations generate a wide variety of waste products on a daily basis. The different waste fractions require careful sorting at the place where the waste is generated and possibly dedicated treatment equipment and storage facilities on the premises.

In hospitals, waste containers are also required to have different characteristics depending on where they are used within the hospital. Salonen lists a few features to consider:

  • Modular containers are the best way to sort the different waste fractions at the point of generation.
  • Collection containers with pedal-operated lids are ideal for use in operating theatres, for example.
  • Lightweight containers are easy to move.
  • Easy-to-clean dishes are the most hygienic.

Environmental stewardship supports the values of the health care district and is part of its responsibility to patients, the work community and the surrounding society. In line with the first KSSHP environmental strategy developed during the project, the hospital district aims to:

  • identify the environmental impacts of operations and reduce them where possible;
  • adhere to the principles of sustainable development and act in a socially responsible way;
  • mitigate the advance of climate change;
  • reduce the amount of waste generated and promote the reuse of waste streams in the circular economy;
  • use procurement to promote products that are as environmentally friendly as possible and recyclable as far as possible after disposal; and
  • increase environmental communication and awareness throughout the organisation.

Hospital Nova in Central Finland was officially inaugurated on 1 December 2020. After the Cirwaste project ends, development work will continue in the new Hospital Nova based on feedback from users and the amount of waste generated on the premises. The waste management process will be continuously optimised, and the monitoring of waste generation will be developed on a facility-by-facility basis.

The Central Finland Health Care District is involved in the Circwaste - Towards Circular Economy project, which promotes the efficient use of material flows, waste prevention and recycling of materials. The aim is to steer Finland towards a circular economy and implement the National Waste Plan. Circwaste is a creation of 20 partners and 10 co-funders, coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute. The project receives a large part of its funding from the European Commission's LIFE programme.

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More information

  • Minna Salonen, Environmental expert, The Central Finland Health Care District (KSSHP),

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