A new program to capture clean, but used plastics from a hospital in Evansville, Ind., is expected to divert some 500 pounds per week from disposal.
The effort from Berry Global Group Inc., Deaconess Midtown Hospital and Nexus Circular figures to capture about 350 bags of used plastics per week, including plastics from the hospital's surgical center, pharmaceutical, laboratory and warehouse operations.
The material will include protective outer packaging from surgical tools and unused nonwoven surgical cloths and gowns.
"There is a stigma around recycling in a hospital setting given health and safety concerns. But a lot of health care plastic packaging is clean and discarded before surgeries even take place, such as peel packs for surgical instruments," said Curt Begle, president of Berry's Health, Hygiene and Specialties Division, in a statement.
Mixed streams of recyclables from the hospital is shipped to Evansville Packaging Systems where it is separated and the plastics are moved to Nexus Circular's chemical recycling plant in Atlanta. Nexus uses pyrolysis, a process that uses pressure and heat to break down materials, to create an oil that can then be used to make new plastics.
Evansville-based Berry, which makes nonwoven plastic fabrics, wants to increase the use of recycled content, the company said.
"This innovative collaboration is a safe, convenient and important way to reduce our volume of waste, while returning quality recyclable materials back into production streams," Deaconess CEO Shawn McCoy said in a statement. "Staff have worked enthusiastically to develop effective processes for this initiative."
The project was pushed by Madyson Partenheimer, a commercial sustainability manager with Berry who is also a former health care worker, the company said.
"The need for plastic in a circular economy will remain constant, but efforts focused on how we can evolve the plastic substrate to be optimal for a sustainable future are crucial," she said on Berry's website.