Total volume of waste decreased

In 2019, HUS collected 8,270 tons of waste through its own waste management function, 230 tons less than in the previous year. Given the growth of our operations and the numerous repairs made to our properties, this decrease in the total volume of waste was a particularly positive outcome.

Community waste (mixed waste and separately collected recyclable waste) accounted for 80% of the total, the remaining 20% comprising health care waste, hazardous waste and waste from construction and property management.

The decrease from 2018 breaks down into more than 90 tons in mixed waste, 66 tons in recycled paper, 35 tons in confidential paper and stickers, and nearly 60 tons in metal. On the other hand, there was an increase of 120 tons in biowaste, 90 tons in cardboard and paperboard and 27 tons in plastic.

The percentage of community waste sorted and recovered was 45.8%.

Thanks to the HUS monitoring and billing system for special waste, HUSKEY, the volume and cost of health care waste and confidential paper waste and the volume of mixed waste can be analyzed by type of waste and by source. The data gained help us allocate advisory services and guidance for waste management as necessary.

Looking at waste volumes at HUS over the past four years, we can see significant changes in particular types of waste. For instance, volumes have decreased by 49% in paper waste, by 29% in waste electrical and electronic equipment and by 26% in hospital waste glass. The largest growth was recorded in solvent waters (+660%), chemical waste (+220%), metal (+59%), confidential, liquid and ethical biological waste (+46%), cytostatic waste (+27%), pharmaceutical waste (+19%) and cardboard and paperboard (+18%).

Recovery and recycling of waste and reducing the volume of waste remain permanent goals. Sorted waste is recovered for either reuse or energy use. Safeguarding the environment requires consideration in consumption and efficient use of resources. Registered Nurse Minna Kotiharju, environmental manager of intensive care Ward 20 at Meilahti Hospital, inspecting the waste room on the ward. Registered Nurse Minna Kotiharju, environmental manager of intensive care Ward 20 at Meilahti Hospital, inspecting the waste room on the ward.

In 2019, HUS produced 8,270 tons of waste.


Waste management goals in the HUS Environment Program 2016–2020 and how they have been attained

Percentage of community waste sorted for material recovery Volume of mixed waste compared to 2015 Volume of biowaste compared to 2015 Volume of paper waste compared to 2015
2016 2017 2018 2019 2016 2017 2018 2019 2016 2017 2018 2019 2016 2017 2018 2019
Goal 50% ≥50 % ≥56 % ≥50 % -3% -6% -9% -15% -2% -4% -6% -8% -3% -6% -9% -15%
Actual 47% 46% 45% 46% -2% -1% -2% -1% 1% 2% -7% 2% -5% -14% -31% -49%
Actual per patient visit -6% -10% -11% -19% -3% -8% -17% -17% -9% -22% -39% -58%

Waste management costs increased

In 2019, waste management costs totaled EUR 7.8 million, an increase of 3.2% on the previous year.

Waste management costs include: waste management fees paid to waste collectors for properties managed by HUS; waste transport costs; HUS Logistics personnel costs for waste transport within hospital buildings; and HUS Asvia personnel costs for waste management duties.

Since 2015, overall waste management costs have increased by nearly 20%. This is mainly due to the expanding operations of HUS Asvia property management, HUSLAB and HUS Pharmacy and to the new hospitals coming on stream. These have boosted volumes of expensive health care special waste and pharmaceutical waste and the waste management workload.


Overall costs of HUS waste management in EUR, 2015–2019

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Total waste management costs 6,605,000 6,665,000 6,860,000 7,601,500 7,841,000
HUS Support Services / property management working hours in waste management 2,559,000 2,609,000 2,635,000 2,684,000 2,999,000
HUS Logistics / in-house waste management 1,312,000 1,384,000 1,384,000 1,546,000 1,530,000
HUS Real Estate Ltd / provision of waste management 1,301,000 1,079,000 1,161,000 1,224,000 1,184,000
Fortum Waste Solutions (formerly Ekokem) / waste and containers 921,000 1,011,000 983,000 1,280,500 1,262,000
Bin lines and trash bags, containers for sharps 512,000 567,000 682,000 827,500 846,000
Equipment for internal collection and in-house logistics 0 15,000 15,000 40,500 20,000
Waste management costs, EUR per patient visit 2.76 2.66 2.59 2.78 2.67

Plastic collecting more than doubled

We expanded our plastics collecting in 2019. The volume of plastic collected increased by 122% on the previous year. Based on positive experiences in plastics collecting introduced at Peijas Hospital in 2016, we expanded the function to five other HUS hospital areas in 2018. In 2019, collection volumes increased at all these sites, and we further expanded the function to the Jorvi, Hyvinkää and Raseborg Hospitals and the Logistics Center.

The majority of plastic collected at HUS properties is plastic food packaging. As and when possible, we will expand plastics collecting to include hospital plastics. Last year, we expanded the collecting function to include hospital plastics 02 and 05 in the Meilahti Hospital area (high-density polyethylene and polypropylene), while in Hyvinkää we introduced collecting of hospital plastic 04 (low-density polyethylene).

The HUS procurement unit at the HUS Logistics supply and transit warehouse at the Logistics Center generates a particularly high volume of shrink wrap plastic. We collect this in a compactor container and deliver it to compacted plastics recycling in batches of about 4,000 kg 2 or 3 times a year.

The major challenge in expanding plastics collecting is a lack of space. Introducing plastics collecting at hospital waste stations requires the installation of waste compactors or balers separately for each type of plastic, which requires a lot of room. In some hospitals, the waste management facilities are so small that sorting types of plastic is not possible. For this reason, it has not been possible to introduce plastics collecting at Töölö Hospital, for instance. A plastics waste baler has also not been installed at Raseborg Hospital or at Lohja Hospital for the time being. At these locations, we collect plastics waste into bags and hand it over to a partner for delivery to Riihimäki for reuse.

We will continue to expand plastics collecting at HUS. We have already identified the sites to address next. We will allocate more space to waste management facilities when designing new buildings or renovations.

In 2019, about 44.5 tons of plastics waste was collected at HUS.