WellSpan York Hospital has partnered with a plastics recycling firm to turn the hospital’s plastic waste into building material.
Keith Noll, senior vice president and chief administration officer, said the Center For Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC USA) is taking the plastic waste from WellSpan York Hospital and turning it into RESIN8, a concrete and asphalt additive.
“When CRDC opened in York (in October 2022), I got an email on the business and saw what they were doing,” Noll said. “I called the York County Economic Alliance to get a contact.”
After discussing the possibility of elevating WellSpan Health’s recycling program with CRDC’s Ross Gibby, a pilot program was formed.
“We just started the program a few weeks ago. We thought it would be a weekly pickup at York Hospital, but as we were collecting it, we filled a box truck in less than a week,” he said.
Because the program is new, Noll said he doesn’t know what the volume of plastics will be and how much CRDC can handle.
“It will be considerable,” he said. “It’s cool what they do.”
Gibby said the materials from WellSpan York Hospital’s four departments in the pilot program, along with community collections, account for about 15% of the volume the York facility converts to RESIN8.
Currently, CRDC gets the bulk of its plastic from multiple sources including Georgia Pacific. Gibby said when the company opened to community collections, it was meant to follow the company’s goal of keeping waste out of the environment, especially the ocean.
Noll said when he saw the email about the community collection, he thought it was a great idea. He explained that different types of plastics are recycled differently. In fact, he said a lot of plastic can’t be recycled in the conventional way.
CRDC, he said, takes all plastic, including the plastic wrapping, and through their process, turns it into RESIN8 that strengthens concrete products.
“They take the plastic and pulverize it. It looks like a lava rock when they are done,” Noll said.
Giddy said CRDC in York can convert one ton of plastic into RESIN8 per hour. RESIN8 improves insulation, strength and fire resistance while reducing the weight of concrete with zero waste.
The process was developed in 2018 in Costa Rica. Gibby said the company expanded into New Jersey in 2019 and then around the world on a small scale to demonstrate the technology.
CRDC then partnered with the Alliance on Plastic Waste and opened the York plant on a commercial scale like the one in Costa Rica.
“We sell the products to concrete manufacturers,” he said, “But it is the design engineers, architects and decision makers that will drive the demand as they work with the concrete manufacturers to use the products.”
RESIN8 improves insulation, strength and fire resistance in concrete that is lighter than traditional products and leaves zero waste from the plastic, he said.
“This is very unique,” Noll said. “We are the only system working with CRDC.”
Most health systems, he said, take waste to recycling plants where a lot of plastic is incinerated.
“We decided to repurpose the plastic. We donate it and haul it to them. We are doing it internally now, but plan to partner with a local hauler soon,” Noll said.
There is no charge to the hospital for the plastic. Noll said CRDC repurposes it and sells it, so he sees the partnership as a good fit for both entities.
Noll said the hospital is starting with plastic waste from the operating rooms, facility management, food service and the dialysis unit. The hospital has ordered special containers to collect the plastic that can be recycled.
“Hospitals produce a lot of plastic waste,” he said. “This is exciting to us because it helps from an environmental standpoint and is keeping the community healthier, which is what we do.”
Once the two figure out the volume that can be managed, Noll said the program will expand to the entire hospital and then to all WellSpan facilities.
Giddy agreed, saying the volume doesn’t affect the CRDC’s production and if the volume increases to that level, it can always reduce what is being brought in from elsewhere.
Currently, CRDC has one shift with six employees. Giddy said a second shift will be operational in about six months with an additional five to six employees.
Noll said he hopes to see the hospital’s recycling program expand in the next six months.
“That is ambitious, but we want to do it,” he said. “The staff is excited abouit, so they are helping us roll this out. We have to work with CRDC, so we don’t overwhelm them.”
Noll said the hope is to use the concrete products produced by CRDC in any building projects WellSpan does in the future.