Tomah Health looks toward Earth Day with less waste, more conservation

Tomah Recycling
Tomah Health Facility Services Director Steve Loging sorts recyclable items in the hospital café. (Tomah Health photo)

TOMAH, Wis. (WKBT) — As Earth Day approaches, Tomah Health facilities director Steve Loging reports that the hospital collected more than a ton more recyclables from October until now than it did during the same period last year.

Tomah Health tallied 28,910 pounds of recyclables since October, compared with 27,740 between October 2020 and April 2021, Loging said a week before Earth Day, April 22.

“Our recyclable totals have increased while our waste, which goes to the landfill, continues to decrease,” Loging said.

The hospital collected 53,240 pounds of recyclables last fiscal year, between October 2020 and September, he said, adding,

“It is our goal and will always remain our goal to reduce our footprint on the environment.”

The organization reduces waste through recycling, reducing disposable containers and using bulk items to minimize the amount of packaging that needs to be disposed.

“It’s a team effort,” he said. “It takes everybody in every department throwing the recyclable paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum and plastics in a recyclable container instead of the regular trash.

“As a whole, we have gotten requests from many departments asking for additional recyclable containers,” Loging said. “So staff is very upfront and conscious about recycling.”

The design of Tomah Health’s new hospital, completed in 2019, helps reduce waste, too, he said.

“When we built this hospital, we installed all LED light fixtures, instead of using fluorescent fixtures, so that we would not have the fluorescent bulbs to change out and recycle,” Loging said.

In addition, the facility’s emergency lights and exits sign are backed up with emergency generator power, which reduces the number of batteries used and put into the waste stream.

The organization also converted to LED bulbs in other buildings.

“While reducing energy consumption does have a cost savings associated with it, the reduction in our carbon footprint is equally as important,” Loging said.

Loging credits the hospital’s Waste Reduction Committee for continuing to cut waste while looking for ways to recycle.

“I think it’s more important for a hospital, like Tomah Health, to recycle,” he said. “Part of our mission is to offer services that support a healthy life and one of our values is to do no harm, so recycling is part of that mission and values because the environment is as important as our patients.”

It takes more effort to recycle hazardous and biological waste, “but as a whole, we can still do our part,” he said.

Hospital staffers will mark Earth Day on April 22 with reminders about recycling and reducing waste, along with a photo contest and ice cream.
“Earth Day is a day that we like to bring attention to waste reduction, but it’s a 365-day-a-year process,” Loging said.

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