As the new normal is feeling more normal, and the resurgence of pre-closure activity has set in, UHN’s green initiatives are back with some updates to share.

UHN’s program Operation Green collects expired medical supplies and divert them from landfills. This program was able to restart this past month, this first time since the COVID-19 restrictions started. Our dedicated supply collectors kept in touch while we were off-site and continued to stockpile until we were able to come back.

Thanks to our wonderful Operation Green team, this month we sent over 200 kg of medical supplies to Not Just Tourists (NJT)!

Figure 1: This set of photos showcases some of the wonderful donors and donations collected from Operation Green’s first collection since returning on-site

Since their start 25 years ago, NJT has been able to send over 1 million lbs of medical supplies to remote locations.

Due to COVID-19, there has been a pause on NJT’s typical delivery method of packing suitcases and tourists bringing them to their destinations. However, supplies are still being sent via aid containers, which keeps their volunteers safe while still filling the developing world’s huge need for medical supplies. Since the shift in shipment method, supplies have been sent out to Nigeria, Ecuador, Ghana and Lebanon.

Now that UHN’s sustainability programs have made their return, Operation Green pickups will return to being monthly, so lookout for the next email! If you aren’t already on the mailing list but would like to make a donation, email

Figure 2: A picture of the first shipment of ice packs ready to be reused

The ice pack recycling program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower and Krembil Discovery Tower has also returned. With its return also came the first post-closure shipment, which diverted 350 lbs of ice packs from the landfill.

Even more ice packs have been collected and are ready to be sent out to our vendor take-back programs. Thank you to everyone who kept recycling their ice packs while the program was still on hold, and everyone who continues now that we’re back!

Figure 3: An example of the new signage at UHN sites reminding you PPE belongs in the garbage

In addition, since donning PPE is now common, so should be the knowledge of how to dispose of it properly. Next time you’re walking through any of the UHN sites, you might notice the new signage meant to remind you that PPE belongs in the garbage (with the ‘N95 Exception’ as described on the poster above).

Figure 4: Two sustainable students trying to keep PPE from winding up in the wrong bin – one sign at a time

A special thank you to Niyat, the Energy & Environment U of T co-op student, who not only designed the poster but helped put them up across UHN sites. (She’s also written some incredibly interesting blog posts about environmental racism and unnecessary medical care, which you should check out if you haven’t already!)

If your department doesn’t have a PPE disposal sign and you want to add them to your bins, email

The safe return of on-site activities couldn’t have been as successful as it was without the coordination of several extremely helpful individuals. I’m happy to be able to see these programs rolling again and am looking forward to keeping the momentum going over the coming months!