Waste Management

Inova's Office of Sustainability focuses on the proper reduction, reuse and disposal of waste. We are a large hospital system with a large, complex waste stream. Major accomplishments include:

  • Recycling - Recycling is the cornerstone of any waste management program. Inova provides single-stream recycling to every unit in its facilities.Have questions about recycling in your department? See our FAQ below!
  • Reprocessing - Inova reprocesses many tons of medical devices annually for future reuse. Current devices that are reprocessed in bulk include:
    • OR: Reprocessed/recycled products include external fixation, hysteroscopic tissue removal, tissue sealing devices, trocars, ultrasonic scalpels and more.
    • Patient Care: Bins for pulse oximeters, ECG lead wires, lateral transfer mats and SCD sleeves can be found in soiled holding rooms or in facility hallways.
  • Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) - Inova works to reduce RMW, which can be harmful to air quality because it is typically incinerated. Over the past decade, we have worked with our waste vendors to halve Inova’s RMW to 8.4% through team member education and by removing unnecessary RMW containers from rooms. Use our Know Where To Throw signage to better understand what belongs in an RMW container.
  • Food Composting - Our Inova Fair Oaks Hospital cafeteria has maintained a successful back-of-house food composting program since 2019. We diverted 22 tons of food waste last year!

Waste Management FAQs

Recyclable: plastic bottles, cans, paper/newspapers/cardboard, large plastic items (> 4inches) such as empty wet-wipe containers

Non-Recyclable: glass bottles, paper coffee cups/plates, plastic utensils, anything Styrofoam, dirty food containers, napkins, medical gloves, wrappers, food and more

“Wish-cycling” is a phenomenon in which people place non-recyclable items into a recycling bin because they wish it was recyclable. If your unit is unsure about what is/isn’t recyclable, put up our General Recycling Signage found on InovaNet.

Regulated medical waste is incredibly carbon-intensive to dispose of. Do your part to help reduce the size of our waste streams by thinking before you throw something away – it takes just a split second longer to help minimize the harmful effects of the waste we create. For further detail about proper separation practices in clinical settings, look at our Know Where to Throw flyer found on InovaNet.

All recycling bins should be lined with a green bag. If it isn’t in a green bag, it will not be recycled! If you see a recycling bin lined with a clear bag, please inform EVS immediately so they can change it out.

Recycling should be available in all work stations, cafeterias, break rooms and conference rooms. As we know, units shift around, and sometimes recycling bins walk away! If you notice an area without a recycling bin or not enough bins, please reach out to Materials Management and EVS.

Inova team members excel at finding creative ways to reuse materials, another important waste reduction strategy. Some units collect blue wrap and deliver it to their local animal shelters - as a sterile plastic, it works very well as bedding for animals! See what you can do to turn everyday disposables into something truly innovative.