Medical products maker Baxter International Inc. and Northwestern Medicine recycled more than 6 tons of intravenous bags during a recent pilot project in Chicago.
The Deerfield, Ill.-based company said the PVC IV bag recycling program was the first of its kind in the United States.
"Across the country, hundreds of thousands of IV bags are used every day," said Cecilia Soriano, president of Baxter's Infusion Therapies and Technologies division, in a statement. "In line with Baxter's commitments as a responsible corporate citizen, we believe this pilot helps pave the way for meaningful, long-term waste reduction."
Employees at Northwestern Memorial Hospital helped develop a new process to recycle the bags as part of the "nursing workflow while also managing space constraints common in hospital settings," Baxter said. Participation included employees from the nursing, supply chain and environmental services sectors.
The collected bags ultimately were transported and inspected by third-party logistics and recycling companies and made into new products such as industrial floor mats and protective edging.
The company and the hospital started tackling the IV bag stream because non-hazardous IV bags typically end up in landfills after residual fluid has been drained.
"What started as a single-unit pilot is now standard practice across several of our inpatient units within Northwestern Memorial Hospital and has resulted in the recycling of more than 170,000 IV bags," said Jeff Good, Northwestern Medicine's first chief sustainability executive and vice president of operations, in a statement.
"Our health system understands the environmental importance of this pilot program and we are dedicated to creating initiatives that support our overarching sustainability goals to reduce our carbon footprint and eliminate unnecessary waste," he said.