In 2021 the Department of Emergency Medicine made a commitment to begin to address the environmental impact of the organization. Starting slowly, and with an easy win, we searched for a solution to the endless cups of coffee served within the department. The department supplies Keurig and Nespresso pods to faculty, residents and staff to ensure people remain well-caffeinated (and happy). However, it was noted that the coffee pods are a major pollutant and end up in our landfills. To address this we introduced a Nespresso Red Bag and K-Cycle recycling program. Both of these programs work very similarly. Once the user has brewed their coffee the pod is placed into the recycling container, and when full, this container is returned to the company to be recycled appropriately. In 2021 we kept 750 K-Cups and 195 Nespresso pods out of our landfill.
We have also switched our cutlery and coffee to-go cups to a compostable brand called ‘Perk’. This solution helps keep single use plastic use to a minimum. While we encourage faculty and staff to use our reusable items on site sometimes it is necessary to have some grab and go supply around! Our goal is to make it the least damaging to the planet as possible.
As part of our weekly departmental newsletter we introduced a Green News section. Here readers find ways to reduce their own waste, are introduced to new green products, and encouraged to find replacements for disposable or single use products both at home and in the workplace.
As we go forward, we will be implementing even more ways to reduce waste. We understand there are lots more areas to improve, and will keep striving to improve year over year. We are creating a dashboard to help us track our progress on reducing our waste.