Abstract

BACKGROUND: The healthcare industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Within the hospital, operating rooms are responsible for the largest proportion of emissions due to high resource utilization and waste generation. Our aim was to generate estimates of greenhouse gas emissions avoided and cost implications following implementation of a recycling program across operating rooms at our freestanding children's hospital. METHODS: Data were collected from three commonly performed pediatric surgical procedures: circumcision, laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair, and laparoscopic gastrostomy tube placement. Five cases of each procedure were observed. Recyclable paper and plastic waste was weighed. Emission equivalencies were determined using the Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. Institutional cost of waste disposal was $66.25 United States Dollars (USD)/ton for recyclable waste and $67.00 USD/ton for solid waste. RESULTS: The proportion of recyclable waste ranged from 23.3% for circumcision to 29.5% for laparoscopic gastrostomy tube placement. The amount of waste redirected from landfill to a recycling stream could result in annual avoidance of 58,500 to 91,500 kg carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, or 6583 to 10,296 gallons of gasoline. Establishing a recycling program would not require additional cost and could lead to modest cost savings (range $15 to 24 USD/year). CONCLUSIONS: Incorporation of recycling into operating rooms has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without increased cost. Clinicians and hospital administrators should consider operating room recycling programs as they work towards improved environmental stewardship. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level VI - evidence form a single descriptive or qualitative study.

DOI 10.1016/J.JPEDSURG.2023.04.011