By Jonesa Rodriguez - October 01, 2021
On average, about 3 billion batteries go to waste each year in the U.S. Throwing away a battery usually causes a ripple effect leading to water and air pollution. And organizations around the country, including Moffitt Cancer Center, are working diligently to find a solution.
The cancer center’s mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer, and it also wants to reduce its footprint in the fight against pollution with a new green initiative: the Battery Reuse Program.
Patients at Moffitt often use ambulatory infusion pumps to receive their treatment at home. These ambulatory infusion pumps are battery operated, with infusion time ranging from 24 hours to seven days. For optimal utilization and to avoid any interruption in infusion, these batteries are often changed after only 48 hours of use, leaving an almost fully charged battery.
After noticing that the cancer center was wasting an average of nearly 28,000 minimally used batteries, Infusion Pharmacist Bhumi Shah, PharmD, knew there had to be a solution to the fast-growing problem.
She partnered with Janelle Solari, guest relations specialist, and Magen Davis, nursing education specialist, to repurpose the minimally used batteries by sharing them with the community. Aware of the current disposal process for the batteries, the team saw the potential to create a program to maximize the batteries' energy, decrease environmental waste and benefit the community.
The trio presented the Battery Reuse Program to committees within Moffitt. They created a workflow, standard operating procedure and partnerships within the community.
“We felt that after serving our patients’ needs that these energy-filled batteries had more purpose and life to give, and we didn’t want to see them go into a recycle bin when they could still power our community,” said Shah.
The goal of the program was to maximize the use of energy, reduce the cost and waste within Moffitt, and create meaningful collaborations and partnerships within the cancer center and the community so that charitable organizations could benefit from using the donated batteries.
The program launched in August. The team worked with the Healthy KIDZ Program at Moffitt to establish partnerships with the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and The Florida Aquarium to help power their STEM programs. The team initially donated 2,500 batteries to MOSI and 750 batteries to the aquarium and will continue donating to both organizations with bimonthly battery drop-offs.
“This initiative helps The Florida Aquarium and MOSI provide educational opportunities and interactive experience for children through the STEM program and other youth programs,” said Davis. “It is rewarding to see our Battery Reuse Program extend to reduce environmental waste and benefit the community.”
The program has improved cost savings for Moffitt by approximately $5,700 including the time and labor of staff to sort, transport and put the batteries into appropriate containers.
“They say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and I feel like it’s very true in this case. The impact that a minimally used battery can have on our community has made me see waste in a whole different preceptive,” said Shah. “I’m proud to work at an institution where they have a Green Committee that is not only fighting cancer but is also aware of the planet and our community. I hope the changes we make will inspire other institutions to pursue similar goals.”