Do you remember your 3 R’s from school?

For decades, we have been taught about the 3 Rs’(Reduce, Reuse Recycle) but as we embrace the idea of Zero Waste, there are a few more R’s we can add. Most Zero Waste Advocates will tell you there are at least 5 Rs and some say there are up to 7!

If you’ve been around the blog, many of you would know that Reducin’, Reusin’ and Recyclin’ are listed in order of importance. Let us peek behind the scenes on how the operating room teams in Toronto Western Hospital and Toronto General Hospital are making a difference with their Blue Polypropylene Sterilization Wrap.

Marcus and a Mountain of Blue Wrap at TGH

If you’re like me and have binge watched through the shows House and Greys Anatomy, then you probably have a good idea as to what blue wrap is. For those that don’t know, blue wrap is mostly limited to one area: the operating room. They are made up of linen fiber and polypropylene materials and are very durable for repurposing. It is used for wrapping surgical instruments for sterilization. On average, the UHN generates 60-70 bags of blue wrap (18-20 lbs/bag). By setting up a repurposing program for the blue wrap, we can reduce the amount of waste!

Thanks to the help of our friends at Partners in Project Green, the UHN has managed to find suitable homes for re-purposing the blue wrap generated within the operating rooms through the Materials Exchange Program. Our first drop-off partner was with the Scadding Court Community Centre where we were able to donate approximately 60 bags of blue wrap. The blue wrap will be repurposed by their sewing hub for training sessions on sewing and educating the community about the importance of waste reduction and reuse! (Who doesn’t love a good circular economy story).

We kick-started the New Year with a donation of 20 bags of blue wrap to the Bloor Improvement Group. The blue wrap will be repurposed and utilized to provide insulation for creating art production spaces as traditional insulation can have a large carbon footprint.

We’ve been exploring the fast fashion industry and other textiles to repurpose for insulation, so when this opportunity arose, we were extremely excited! At this point, the blue wraps have been stuffed inside the walls, as our research has found they are great thermal barriers while not molding to moisture

Darren Leu, Bloor Improvement Group
Blue Polypropylene Sterilization Wrap repurposed in the Art Studio’s

Moving forward, the UHN aims to continue to work with our partners throughout 2022 to ensure the continuous re-purposing of blue wrap materials! If you are interested in diverting your waste from the landfill, then try the materials exchange program. It’s a matchmaking program for all that good stuff: office furniture, equipment, textiles, particularly useful containers, anything that could potentially be reused.

As you continue to explore sustainability in your everyday lives, be sure not to place an over emphasis on just one of the R’s. Make a plan. Move slow and steady. Or, if you’re feeling it, go all in! Just remember that you are not expected to know it all or to “do it” perfectly.

Thank you to the Green Team Members in the OR that helped make this happen.

P.S Read More about how Blue Wrap was repurposed in the past here: Blue Wrap…