Hospitals Renew Efforts To Cut Waste

By By Dan Hounsell
April 9, 2021

COVID-19 has prompted many healthcare organizations to rethink their priorities as they struggled to operate safely and efficiently while treating waves of sick patients. In some cases, though, one pre-pandemic effort — sustainability — has remained a high priority.

The U.S. healthcare sector makes up 10 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study in the National Library of Medicine. Now, a small but growing number of healthcare workers are improving their hospitals’ environmental footprints through sustainable practices, according to The Guardian.

For example, hospitals and clinics are among the top consumers of single-use plastics in the country. Medical waste is often non-recyclable, and a lot of it is incinerated, releasing toxic fumes and ashes. In 2015, Carilion Clinic in Virginia formally introduced a sustainability program to reduce its environmental footprint through multiple interventions.

It saved about 30,000 pounds of waste and $50,000 a year from a little tweak: asking patients before sending them food they didn’t want to their rooms, says Sara Wohlford, manager of the efficiency and sustainability program at the clinics.

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