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Waste Reduction in the Hospital Sector: Case Study Report of McPherson Hospital

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
April 1991

This case study documents successful waste reduction programs at McPherson Hospital in Howell, Michigan. McPherson Hospital's source reduction and recycling practices can serve as a model for other hospitals in Michigan. Process and cost analyses of McPherson Hospital's conversion from disposable to reusable dishes are the focus of this report. Major findings are:

-Waste produced by disposable dish use was virtually eliminated after conversion to reusable dishes.

-Reusable dishware use increased overall labor needs by 80%.

-Disposable dishware costs as much to use as washable dishware. The cost of disposable dishware balances the increased labor costs required to wash reusable dishes.

-Costs of disposable dishware use are sensitive to dishware prices, which comprise 64% of total costs.

-Comparative costs of reusable dishware use are less sensitive to rises in labor costs, which comprise 62% of total reusable costs, because labor also constitutes 33% of total costs for the disposable case.

-A conversion from disposable to washable dishware by all hospitals in the state could reduce annual solid waste production by as much as 880 tons.

The conversion from disposable to washable dishes at McPherson was facilitated by staff involvement and management responsiveness at all levels. Hospitals with dishwashing equipment can readily adopt the reusable dishware process studied in this report.

McPherson hospital also recycles a variety of papers and glass, steel, and aluminum containers. The hospital further reduces waste production by using cloth diapers rather than disposables, and reusing and refurbishing a variety of linens and housekeeping products.

-Adoption of McPherson's recycling program could divert as much as 7,000 tons from state landfills annually.

Waste disposal may be an increasingly important issue for hospitals in the future. A review of the successful waste reduction practices at McPherson Hospital could help other hospitals deal more effectively with waste disposal issues.

Research Areas
Food Systems and Consumer Products

food service, pollution prevention, solid waste reduction

Publication Type
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation

Keoleian, G.A., J.W. Bulkley, R. DeYoung, A. Duncan, E. McLaughlin, D. Menerey, M. Monroe and T. Swenson. (1991) "Waste Reduction in the Hospital Sector: Case Study Report of McPherson Hospital." Office of Waste Reduction Services, State of Michigan Departments of Natural Resources and Commerce, Lansing, MI: 1-17.