We all love sports. From the players to the coaches, sports give us a reason to believe in something bigger than ourselves as a team takes on a challenge, perseveres through adversity and, ultimately, changes the way people think. So what does this have to do with medical recycling? We’ve come up with a few lessons.

If anyone has been paying attention to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in Northern California this season, you know that this has been one of the most exciting NBA seasons to watch in a long time.

Here at Surplus Service, a San Francisco, CA Bay Area-based business, we’re big sports fans. But with all the excitement about which team is going to make it to the finals, it got us thinking about something. Are there any lessons sports could teach us all about medical recycling—one of the least talked about challenges many hospitals have to deal with and one of the core services our company provides? You bet your bottom dollar.

Here are a few lessons we’ve found over the years.

Move With a Sense of Urgency

Remember when Curry injured his right ankle at the beginning of the playoff series against the Houston Rockets? A lot of people thought the Warriors’ historic season might come to an early close, but it didn’t end there because the team realized their opportunity to take it all the way could only last for a moment. The lesson: as with any situation with an uncertain outcome, you are going to have to move with a sense of urgency.

Our environment has been taking a serious beating. The dirty little secret about hospitals and other health facilities is that they generate tons of garbage each year, which makes the planet vulnerable to further erosion. Some health organizations, however, are starting to get the big picture about medical recycling. At each facility, there are truckloads of unused but recyclable medical supplies—everything from excess syringes and gauze to surgical instruments. The hospitals that are making an effort to recycle that medical equipment are realizing that if they don’t act now, it could cost them the game down the road.

Eliminate the Clutter

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has a coaching philosophy called “The Process” that is completely relevant to medical recycling. One of his key principles to success on the football field is to get rid of the clutter that could distract a player from the big game. According to Practice Greenhealth, health care centers generate upwards of 25 pounds of bio waste per staffed bed on any given day. On the other end of the spectrum, when hospitals are forced to close, they leave behind valuable electronic waste that just sits there and collects dust. At some point, those of us in the medical recycling industry will have to do what Saban would do and ask ourselves: “Is this something that is relevant to what I have to do right now?” If the answer is no, then get that unused e-waste out of there.

It Takes a Team Effort

Even superstar LeBron James knows that he can’t carry his team all by himself all the way to a championship. He needs his team to step up and help him win. It’s the same way when it comes to medical recycling. Thirty years ago, most hospitals had a throwaway mindset when it came to getting rid of certain medical devices and equipment. But in recent years, more facilities have been forming “green teams” to spread awareness about the importance of medical recycling. As we know with sports, any team that has made it to the top has done one main thing right: teamwork.

It’s All About the Culture You Create

During a recent postgame interview, reporters asked San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich what qualities the team looks for in players to create such a successful franchise year after year. Popovich told them that a big part of it has been the culture they’ve created for the team. It’s the same way when it comes to medical recycling. A health facility can’t just have a few staff members who are gung ho about zero waste. Physicians and other key medical professionals have to buy in to the idea as well. Ultimately, if the whole team gets involved and more organizations embrace medical recycling, it will save money. Now that’s an idea everyone can get behind.

 

 

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