Before we open the 100% recycled paper envelope to announce the winner, a bit of background … Waste Reduction Week (WRW) has been celebrated across Canada on the 3rd week of each October since 2001. This year, UHN hosted its 7th annual Inter-Hospital Challenge on Oct 17-23 as a way to get hospitals to think more sustainably. It’s a refresh on reducing, reusing and those important recycling rules … AND cool prizes to be won.

This was our biggest week yet, with a total of 2,130 staff participants, roughly the equivalent number of active landfills in Canada.

Our participants came from 8 organizations in Ontario, including:

  • CHEO
  • Hamilton Health Sciences
  • SickKids
  • Sinai Health
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Trillium Health Partners
  • Unity Health Toronto
  • University Health Network

(If your organization missed us this year, please email so you can join us next year.)

In case you’re wondering how we pick the winner from organizations of different sizes, we divide the number of participants by the numbers of employees for each. That gives us an easily comparable participation rate regardless of size.

Now onto the real results that you’ve been waiting for…

It was a very tight race! On Thursday, Sinai, Sunnybrook, and Trillium Health Partners were leading, with UHN trailing in 4th place. By reaching out to UHN’s Green Team, the over 700 staff members that help make their departments more sustainable, UHN was able to overtake all sites and achieve 1st place! Congratulations, TeamUHN, and special thanks to the Green Team!

Honourable mentions go to Sinai Health (last year’s top spot) and Sunnybrook which came in second and third place, respectively. Another honourable mention goes to Trillium Health Partners, which earned best newcomer organization. Every single participating organization should be proud!

Caught Green-Handed

For a little added fun, we asked people to send in any photos of themselves or their teams doing something sustainable. In our #CaughtGreenHanded series, CHEO may win the prize for cuteness in composting…

Renata in UHN’s Green Team shared this image celebrating blue bins and reusable mugs…

We also have A LOT of great Waste Wizard images from our recent Staff BBQs, where staff volunteered to help everyone at the BBQ figure out how to dispose of their stuff properly. That way, compostable plates went in compost, the empty popcans went in recycling, and the popsicle wrappers went into the trash.

Feel free to send more #CaughtGreenHanded photos our way!

Daily Prizes

A nice motivator for TeamUHN was DAILY WINNERS from the participants of that day. Congratulations and enjoy the tasty, sustainably grown treats…

Monday’s Winner: David T. from the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Tuesday’s Winner: Priya D. from Toronto Western Hospital

Wednesday’s Winner: Devika J. from Toronto General Hospital

Thursday’s Winner: Fahreen L. from Toronto Rehab Institute

Friday’s Winner: Zainil M. from Toronto General Hospital

Saturday/Sunday Winner: Marina S. from Princess Margaret Cancer Research

Behind the scenes secrets – how did people really do in the challenge?

Overall, those who answered the quiz did pretty well, with an average score of 74%.

Many people weren’t sure of which single use plastics will be banned across Canada beginning in December. Lots knew plastic checkout bags were on the chopping block (91%), though few realized Styrofoam or black plastic plates, cups and bowls would be as well (59%). Plastic bottles are not on the ban at this time, so that was a trick question.

Did you know that coffee cups belong in the garbage? 65% of quiz respondents did. We hope the other 35% learned by doing the quiz … that’s one of the most common recycling mistakes people make! Putting the right things in the garbage keeps our recycling and compost from getting contaminated (and wasted). 76% of people knew that PPE belongs in the garbage, and it goes without saying, but pretty please, don’t litter the stuff.

We gave an option for people to leave comments, and did you ever! Our results showed a lot of people want more GREEN BINS!!! Not everyone has access to organics bins, so unfortunately those materials go in the trash (for now), or some bring home their food waste “Boomerang Lunch” style. Thank you for asking about green bins, and we’re definitely working on it. There are around 500 more comments we’re making our way through, so stay tuned!

Even though Waste Reduction Week has ended, we have created a practice version of the challenge that you can take or share any time, as a way to learn about biomedical waste stewardship, the Single Use Plastics limited ban and more. If you didn’t get a chance to participate in Waste Reduction Week this year, keep an eye out for it next year by following us on Twitter, Facebook or this here blog!

Co-written with Kate Fan