That’s why the missions of both UW Health and the Department of Anesthesiology include a commitment to advancing health through social responsibility. In the past decade our department has enhanced the social, environmental and economic sustainability of our practice through waste reduction and education about climate-smart anesthesia practice.
In 2012, we began education initiatives with Grand Rounds lectures, new employee orientation, signage and a resident sustainability educator. Over time we have seen steady reduction in our anesthetic gas wastage with a savings of more than $30,000 per month.
We have also achieved a 73% reduction in our carbon dioxide emissions compared with 2011, the equivalent of eliminating the emissions of more than 2,400 cars per year between 2011 and 2018. We have also reduced our landfill waste stream by 23 percent, diverting more than 9,000 cubic yards of waste from landfills in one year.
To reduce upstream waste reduction, we favor reusable supplies wherever possible and educate providers to avoid wasteful set up with excessive supply opening. In just two years UW Health and the Department of Anesthesiology have collected and recycled 352 pounds of medication vial caps with an approximate volume of 20 cubic feet (about a freezer-chest full). These caps get a second life as stacking bins, stools and even toys and art supplies.