YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Along with patients, WellSpan Health says it is committed to taking care of the environment, and has come up with an unusual plan to turn its plastic waste into something new and very different.

“Some of the plastics end up in landfills and in the ocean,” WellSpan Health president and CEO Roxanna Gapstur said.

In 2022, the health system committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030. Gapstur said part of that has to include finding a way to deal with hospital waste.

“The healthcare industry has an inordinate amount of waste that we use each and every day, about 30 pounds of waste per hospital bed per day,” she said.

WellSpan’s York Hospital has partnered with the Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC) in York County, delivering garbage bags full of plastic waste to the company.

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“It’s what all the instruments are packaged in, it’s the gowns, it’s things like that, it’s the blankets,” said CRDC Chief Operating Officer Ross Gibby.

Normally, this is the end of the road for those items.

“It’s either going to go to landfill or a waste energy incinerator,” Gibby said.

However, CRDC is doing something different. Plastic waste arriving at CRDC goes through a long process, first through a shredder and granulator, followed by three more machines.

“We mix it all together, we batch it all together, and mix the mineral additives,” Gibby said, explaining the second step of the process, where the shredded plastic is mixed with ash and other minerals.

The mixture then gets melted down and reformed into what looks like lava rock.

“We call it a hybrid mineral polymer,” Gibby said.

He went on to describe the last step: “One additional stage where we granulate that into a sand-like material.”

That sand can then be added to concrete, and used in construction materials.

“Just the simplicity of the process of taking the plastics through and coming out with a product that literally is ready to go into concrete seems pretty amazing,” Gapstur said.

Finding another use for waste is part of both WellSpan’s and CRDC’s missions.

“It’s critical for us to responsibly be able to manage that plastic waste and give it an end of life that’s environmentally responsible,” Gibby said.

CRDC is planning to ramp up its process in York; Gibby said the facility will eventually produce one to 1.5 tons of the sand-like material, called Resin8, every hour.

WellSpan eventually wants all hospitals to be involved.

“We would be happy to give CRDC as much plastic as they can possibly handle,” Gapstur said.

Gapstur explained this process also comes full circle. The sand product made out of WellSpan’s plastic waste will go into the concrete used to build the expansion at WellSpan York Hospital.