BACKGROUND: Hospital waste adds to the ecological footprint of the healthcare system, whereas inattention to recyclables may increase costs. The primary objective of this study was to assess the amount of recyclable and nonrecyclable intraoperative waste produced across representative otolaryngology surgical procedures.
METHODS: Representative surgical cases across four otolaryngology subspecialties at a tertiary care military medical institution were prospectively identified. Waste was collected, divided, and weighed across two categories: recyclable and nonrecyclable. This study was performed in conjunction with a hospital-approved quality improvement project.
RESULTS: The study included 22 otolaryngology surgeries performed across four otolaryngology subspecialties: facial plastics, pediatrics, otology, and head and neck oncology. Overall, 197.4 kg of waste was collected of which 40.2 kg (20%) was recyclable and 157.2 kg (80%) was nonrecyclable. An average of 1.8 kg of recyclable materials and 7.1 kg of nonrecyclable materials were collected per case.
CONCLUSION: This study supports that otolaryngology surgical procedures generate a significant amount of waste, a large component of which is recyclable. It highlights the need for proper disposal of this waste and the implementation of a recycling program at our institution with the potential for both ecologic and economic benefits.