How going green saves Kaiser $26 million annually

The paper provided case studies of how key suppliers are raising standards for green products in the healthcare industry.

Johnson & Johnson  established a process called Earthwards, which uses lifecycle evaluation in the development and marketing of greener products. Every Earthwards-recognized product must achieve a greater than 10 percent improvement in at least three of seven areas: materials used, packaging, energy, waste, water, social benefit and innovation. One Johnson & Johnson Company, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, launched a new generation of its VITROS 3600 Immunodiagnostic System, which runs clinical blood tests in hospital labs. The new generation of the system achieved a 13 percent reduction in energy and 80 percent reduction in liquid waste generated during use.

BD and Waste Management developed he BD ecoFinity Life Cycle Solution, which enables hospitals for the first time to safely and economically recycle single-use medical sharps (syringes, needles), which make up a large part of the medical waste stream and often end up in landfills or incinerators. BD's solution takes recovered plastics and develops them into new sharps collector products, creating a closed-loop recycling solution. It is expected that partiicipating hospitals can keep up to 70 percent of sharps waste out of landfills or incinerators.

For the last two years, Kimberly-Clark has investigated health care institutions' needs surrounding recycling of blue sterilization wrap for medical instruments. Earlier this year, the company launched Blue ReNew, a step-by- step program that helps hospitals formalize the process for recycling sterilization wrap. The Kimberly-Clark Blue ReNew Team works with hospitals to customize the program for each facility’s unique needs, identify recycling partners, train Operating Room teams and measure results to ensure the wrap recycling program can be sustained.

Ultimately, the health care system's growing concern about sustainability can improve patient health, slim down hospital expenses and reduce the industry's environmental impact. And growing concern means greater transparency.

“The idea of transparency will only become more important, and suppliers and hospitals around the world will be held accountable for impacts throughout the lifecycle of a product – from where it is produced and how it is used in the delivery of care, to how it is treated at end of use,” said Gary Cohen, President and Founder of Health Care Without Harm.