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Faculty Mentor

Hayley Balckburn


Increasing use of single use plastic and single use devices has led to a large uptick in medical waste globally. During our research we have found that small changes make a big impact. Some of the biggest differences were made by hospitals by switching to a reusable product or retraining staff on proper techniques. According to this research, educating healthcare professionals and the public about different types of medical waste and its generation has brought forth the most success in reducing medical waste.

Instead of directly altering the way medical systems handle their waste, we are reaching those who may begin to foster that change. In order to go about this, we are implementing a medical waste day. Our approach to the development and implementation of a medical waste day required collaborative efforts within our group and the broader community. This was done in 5 steps: finding partners with like minded interests, creating a preliminary survey to assess local need, organizing the event, hosting the event, and evaluating the impact of the event.

The goals of this project include: increasing education of medical waste, increasing awareness of the issue, and fostering connections between sustainability organizations and directors of medical equipment and waste at local medical facilities. After hosting the event it is clear there was an increased understanding of issues surrounding medical waste and what individuals can do to help drive Missoula medical waste system towards a more sustainable future.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project




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