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Home > About > Community Relations & Outreach > Recycling Medical Supplies

Recycling Medical Supplies

Healthcare facilities produce a diverse and overwhelming amount of waste — over 6,000 tons of waste per day.

Through our MERCI (Medical Equipment Recovery of Clean Inventory) program, UVA ensures that unused medical supplies go to humanitarian organizations in the area and around the world.


Only about 15 percent of this waste is considered infectious, which means the remaining 85 percent is considered solid waste, including materials like cardboard, paper, metal, glass, plastics and unused medical supplies. Roughly 30-50 percent of what is routinely — and mistakenly — disposed of as regulated medical waste (RMW) could be managed as solid waste.

Why Does This Matter? 

Aside from costing up to 10 times as much as solid waste disposal, the disposal of RMW involves the use of facility incinerators, which can generate a host of hazardous emissions.

The MERCI program functions at no cost to UVA. Throughout the week, participating departments drop off supplies in the recycling room on the ground floor of the Primary Care Center. Every Thursday, hospital volunteers sort through all of the donated items to ensure they are reusable. The items are then boxed and donated to several different humanitarian organizations.

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Where the Medical Supplies Go

Supplies from the MERCI Program are used by local, national and foreign groups. Local partners include the Charlottesville/Albemarle SPCA, the Virginia Wildlife Center and the Charlottesville Pregnancy Center. We also work with medical mission groups such as Gleaning for the World and Christian Relief Services, who ship supplies to missions world-wide.

MERCI also fills orders for employees and faculty who participate in medical missions.

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