Ways Dentists can Reduce Office Waste
There are many aspects of a dental office that can lead to a significant source of waste and ultimately pollute our environment. While certain measures are in place to protect from biological hazards, there are other ways that dentists, like Smile Institute, can help reduce the amount of waste in their offices.
Dentists should first implement a recycling program. Office products are a large part of the waste problem in any office with paper and plastic products being the primary culprits. We print thousands of sheets of paper for various flyers, forms and medical records, among other pieces of information. When we no longer need those documents, they still need a place to go. While it’s obvious that medical records can’t go to the trash due to privacy concerns, the rest of our paper waste often finds its way there. However, there are recycling contractors available that can securely and confidentially dispose of all of our paper waste products, including those containing sensitive information.
Plastics recycling depends on the location. In Oregon, we have a bottle buy back program, which means you can get money for every bottle you recycle. Also, Oregon is proactive on plastics recycling and will accept almost any type of plastic. In other states, containers with Nos. 1 and 2 are certainly accepted almost everywhere. However, many areas are instituting “All Together Programs where recycling companies are collecting plastics, aluminum and paper in one container. Instead of using disposable plastic water bottles, we should opt for the more eco-friendly reusable water bottle instead. Not only will this reduce office waste, but it can also save cost to the individual as well.
More often medical records are becoming digital rather than the paper hard copies of yesterday, which take up valuable space, time, and create a ton of waste. If we go digital, we reduce our dependence on paper products further and can easily have the dental records at our fingertips when we need them. The problem with electronic records is that while paper is shredded and redacted and recycled, electronics aren’t as much. Some companies take back computers, but smart phones are the fastest growing item in most landfills with LCD monitors, second. Computers have lead components and mercury waste that make them difficult to recycle.
Use Digital Imaging
As technology improves, so does our ability to perform more efficiently. That includes the use of digital imaging for dental X-rays. By switching to digital imaging, we can eliminate the need for the toxic X-ray fixer and further reduce our overall impact on the environment.
Eco-Friendly Infection Control
Infection control is probably the single most challenging thing to reduce in a dental office, but it can be done. While it is vital to our patient’s well-being that we provide a sterile environment for treatment, there are eco-friendly alternatives to some of the infection control products that we use daily.
Common practice in many dental offices has been to use disposable sterilization products. However, the use of cloth wraps, pouches, and bibs or towels has been gaining momentum in eco-dentistry today. When a paper and plastic pouch must be used, you can still combat the issue of waste management by separating the paper and plastic parts and recycling them separately.
The exam rooms aren’t the only place where paper can be reduced. We often use paper towels in our bathrooms for hand drying. However there are a couple of better options out there. One option would be to use a cloth towel in the bathroom and another would be to install a hands-free dryer, thus eliminating the possibility for germs to collect on surfaces. You also have the option of biodegradable or recycled food waste paper towels.
These are just a few of the many possibilities that are available to Smile Institute for waste reduction within the office. If you have any questions or concerns about how we reduce our office waste, feel free to give us a call today.