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Sustainability

Stating that a Disposable Curtain is Recyclable is not the Same as Recycling Curtains

By June 7th, 2023No Comments

Many hospitals operated at or near capacity during the pandemic in 2020-2021. If there was a privacy curtain at the COVID-infected patient’s bedside, it had to be exchanged for a clean one after the room was terminally cleaned and before the next admission.

During this period of unprecedented curtain exchanges, many hospitals realized that launderable curtains were a BIG problem for the Environmental Services department. Changing a curtain involved “a man, a ladder and a trip to the curtain lockup and about 60 minutes”, significantly impacting room turnover and bed availability.

Many chose to switch from cloth to polypropylene privacy curtains that could be exchanged in minutes and were RECYCLABLE! Facilities that did so declared, “Hooray! We can save the planet while reducing labor and getting rid of our ugly, wrinkled curtains!”

But joy turned to grief because virtually NO Hospital recycled these curtains. This as companies that recycle single use disposables want nothing to do with curtains that MIGHT be contaminated with COVID or something worse.

Facilities may explore whether current technologies such as TCG’s SteriMelt and CurtainMelt can be deployed to help recycle polypropylene items such as disposable curtains, cover gowns, masks, and CSR drapes (clean and contaminated). Deploying this type of technology may be the missing link to ensuring that your disposable curtain is getting recycled versus going into the landfill.