Baxter Expands PVC Intravenous Bag Recycling Program
Baxter Expands PVC Intravenous Bag Recycling Program

Baxter Expands PVC Intravenous Bag Recycling Program

  • 28-Dec-2023 7:26 PM
  • Journalist: Nina Jiang

Baxter International has successfully completed the initial phase of its groundbreaking intravenous (IV) bag recycling pilot program, conducted in collaboration with Northwestern Medicine. This pioneering initiative has diverted over six tons of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) IV bag waste away from landfills, demonstrating a significant stride towards sustainable healthcare practices.

Cecilia Soriano, President of Baxter’s Infusion Therapies and Technologies division, underscores the importance of IV bags in healthcare, emphasizing their widespread use in hospitals for administering clinically essential solutions such as fluids, nutrition, and medicines. The conventional disposal method for non-hazardous IV bags involves draining residual fluids and discarding them as waste, contributing to landfill accumulation. Baxter's pilot program, however, introduces a novel approach by integrating material separation for recycling into the nursing workflow. This innovative process addresses common space constraints in hospital settings and engages stakeholders from various Northwestern Memorial Hospital departments.

Partnering with dedicated third-party logistics and recycling firms, the collected PVC IV bags undergo transportation and inspection before being recycled into diverse products, including industrial floor mats and protective edging for docks and landscaping. The success of this pilot phase is attributed to the collaboration with Northwestern Medicine and the active involvement of hospital departments in developing and implementing an efficient recycling process. All IV bags involved in the pilot were composed of PVC.

Jeff Good, Northwestern Medicine’s inaugural Chief Sustainability Executive and Vice President of Operations, expresses pride in Northwestern Memorial Hospital being the first health system in the nation to initiate the recycling of PVC IV bags. Starting as a single-unit pilot, the program has now become standard practice across multiple inpatient units within the hospital, resulting in the recycling of over 170,000 IV bags.

Baxter's primary goal for the pilot's initial phase was to establish the proof of concept for a program facilitating the recycling of plastic IV bags manufactured by the company. With the successful conclusion of the pilot, Northwestern Medicine is committed to continuing and expanding the program throughout the health system. Baxter, in its proactive pursuit of sustainable healthcare practices, aims to engage additional health system participants in the Chicago area to validate the process and assess economic feasibility. This collaborative effort will contribute to the long-term, large-scale implementation of the recycling program, with the potential for adoption by health systems nationwide. Baxter's commitment to sustainability is exemplified through these initiatives, emphasizing the importance of responsible waste management in the healthcare sector.

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