Turning operating room trash into artistic treasure at UW Hospit - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Turning operating room trash into artistic treasure at UW Hospital

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Environmentalism, medicine and art all have one thing in common at UW Hospital. 

Staff members are now recycling and reusing medical plastic, like vial caps, that otherwise would have been thrown away, largely for art projects.

According to hospital officials, a waste audit showed the hospital was putting more than 225,000 pounds of medical plastic into the landfill that could have been recycled.  They say, that's about a fifth of the hospital's total waste and could fill up two and a half Olympic-sized pools. 

That won't happen anymore though.  Some of the plastic will be given to a partnering company to melt down and turn into other objects, and plastic vial caps are being used for art projects to be displayed at UW Hospital. 

"People always think it's a small amount; it's a small thing.  But it really adds up over time, so that's what we're trying to show," says Karin Zuegge, the medical director of sustainability at UW Health. 

"As you get closer, you can see how many different pieces went into making each one," adds Mandy Kron, the senior art coordinator at UW Health.  "So being able to see that quantity all together really shows people how much waste that gets generated."

So far, volunteers from the hospital staff have created two art pieces.  One is an image of the iconic Union chairs, and the other is of the hospital's Green Steps program logo.  Each of those took about 38 hours to put together, according to Zuegge and Kron.  Next the volunteers will be working on projects portraying the Capitol with tulip in front and Bucky Badger. 

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