Baxter Advances First Intravenous (IV) Bag Recycling Pilot for U.S. Hospitals

Press Release
  • Pilot phase successfully demonstrated proof of concept, with more than six tons of plastic IV bag waste diverted from landfill from Northwestern Memorial Hospital

  • Baxter now expanding pilot to support scalability

  • Program demonstrates Baxter’s and Northwestern Medicine’s commitment to corporate responsibility and waste reduction

Nurse disposing of IV bag into garbage container.

Photo provided by Northwestern Medicine. 



Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX), an innovative leader in infusion therapies and technologies, announced the completion of the first phase of its intravenous (IV) bag recycling program pilot. Launched in conjunction with Northwestern Medicine, a premier integrated academic health system in Chicago, more than six tons (or 12,000 pounds) of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) IV bag waste — enough to cross the city of Chicago if bags were laid end-to-end — has been successfully diverted from landfill to be recycled for a useful second life. This program is the first of its kind to launch in the U.S.

“Across the country, hundreds of thousands of IV bags are used every day. Baxter is a proud manufacturer and supplier of these bags, which are ubiquitous in hospital care—particularly single-use plastic containers that provide patients clinically essential solutions including fluids, nutrition and medicines,” said Cecilia Soriano, president of Baxter’s Infusion Therapies and Technologies division. “In line with Baxter’s commitments as a responsible corporate citizen, we believe this pilot helps pave the way for meaningful, long-term waste reduction.”

Unlike other medical equipment products such as syringes and needles, which have established post-use collection methods, standard practice for non-hazardous IV bag removal includes draining of residual fluid and disposing as waste that ultimately ends up in a landfill. Through this pilot program, stakeholders from several Northwestern Memorial Hospital departments — including nursing, supply chain and environmental services — were engaged to help develop a new process that enables the incorporation of material separation for recycling into nursing workflow while also managing space constraints common to hospital settings. With dedicated third-party logistics and recycling partners, collected IV bags are transported and inspected to ultimately be recycled into products such as industrial floor mats and protective edging for docks and landscaping. All IV bags involved in this pilot were made of PVC, one of the most widely used plastic materials in medical products.

“We are proud to pilot this program with Baxter to be the first health system in the nation to begin recycling PVC IV bags,” said Jeff Good, Northwestern Medicine’s first chief sustainability executive and vice president of operations. “What started as a single-unit pilot is now standard practice across several of our inpatient units within Northwestern Memorial Hospital and has resulted in the recycling of more than 170,000 IV bags. Our health system understands the environmental importance of this pilot program and we are dedicated to creating initiatives that support our overarching sustainability goals to reduce our carbon footprint and eliminate unnecessary waste.”

As a company focused on waste reduction, Baxter’s objective for the pilot’s first phase was to establish proof of concept for a program that assists hospitals in recycling plastic IV bags manufactured by Baxter. Following the successful conclusion of the pilot phase, Northwestern Medicine will continue to implement the program and will explore expanding the program throughout the health system. Baxter is now actively seeking to engage additional health system participants in the Chicago area to further validate the process and economic feasibility. Doing so will support long-term, large-scale implementation with potential roll out to other health systems across the country.

This program builds on Baxter’s innovative experiences partnering with hospitals and waste collection companies outside of the U.S. to recycle valuable materials at the end of product life. In recent years, Baxter has introduced several programs to facilitate recycling for patients and hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, Guatemala and Colombia.

About Baxter

Every day, millions of patients, caregivers and healthcare providers rely on Baxter’s leading portfolio of diagnostic, critical care, kidney care, nutrition, hospital and surgical products used across patient homes, hospitals, physician offices and other sites of care. For more than 90 years, we’ve been operating at the critical intersection where innovations that save and sustain lives meet the healthcare providers who make it happen. With products, digital health solutions and therapies available in more than 100 countries, Baxter’s employees worldwide are now building upon the company’s rich heritage of medical breakthroughs to advance the next generation of transformative healthcare innovations. To learn more, visit and follow us on X/Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.


About Northwestern Medicine

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This release includes forward-looking statements concerning potential benefits associated with IV bag pilot program (including the anticipated expansion of the program and any environmental impacts). The statements are based on assumptions about many important factors, including the following, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements: satisfaction of regulatory and other requirements; actions of regulatory bodies and other governmental authorities (including with respect to climate change and other sustainability matters); changes in law and regulations; future actions of third parties (including Northwestern Medicine and other hospital systems); and other risks identified in Baxter's most recent filing on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q and other SEC filings, all of which are available on Baxter's website. Baxter does not undertake to update its forward-looking statements.


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