Deputy Mayor Willie Cormier (left) and Antigonish Town Councillor Diane Roberts (second from the left) recognized members of the St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Green Team for their volunteer efforts in making their community a cleaner and brighter place to live and work.

ANTIGONISH: St. Martha’s Regional Hospital offers a unique recycling program in its operating room (OR), something that is getting high praise from Antigonish Town Council.

During the regular monthly town council meeting on April 19, Lauren Hoh and Hailey Standrick, who are both registered nurses (RN) at St. Martha’s, provided council with an overview of the recycling initiative they’ve undertaken since 2012.

“Obviously it reduces costs and environmental impacts,” Hoh said. “Which is always important to everybody around us.”

For the first eight months of the project in 2012, in relation to the same time period in 2011, there was a reduction in the bio-hazardous waste from 110,000 pounds to 74,000 pounds, a reduction of over 35 per cent and an estimated annual savings of $30,000.

“As somebody who doesn’t know that much about health care, it surprises me that a provincial organization would not have to recycle,” Willie Cormier told reporters following the meeting. “The surgical waste that’s always been considered surgical waste had to be disposed of, incinerated in Moncton, and a large amount of that is not bio waste, it’s just regular recyclables.”

It took a while for people to understand, Hoh said as for what actually was required to go into bio waste and what could go into general waste.

“Some the elements to improve our waste management are promoting practices that reduce the volume of waste generated and proper segregation,” she said. “It was as simple as getting a few extra bins in the room, recycling, garbage and bio-hazard waste, as opposed to just one.”

A lot of it is mindset, Hoh said, as people need to re-think previous practices, and that recycling is here to stay. She said the change was the result of an in-house idea at St. Martha’s and wasn’t a provincial initiative.

“I want to put them in touch with the Minister of Health, Michelle Thompson, they’re always looking for creative ways to save money and is good for the environment,” Cormier said. “Well here’s one we’re doing in Antigonish that none of the other 41 hospitals are doing.”

To Cormmier, it’s something that can save money, is environmentally friendly, and simple for any size hospital.

“It doesn’t need more money, it doesn’t need more people, instead of throwing everything into one container, you put it into two or three,” Cormier said. “So hopefully, we can get that some legs.”