Baxter First to Join Hospital Waste-Reduction Program

Baxter First to Join Hospital Waste-Reduction Program

Health care giant Baxter Healthcare Corp. has become the first medical supplier to be deemed a "Champion for Change" in the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment program, a landmark initiative to improve environmental performance in health care.

"For more than a decade we've been working hard to lessen the environmental impact of our products," said William R. Blackburn, vice president and chief counsel of Corporate Environment, Health and Safety for Baxter. "Through our work with collaborative organizations like Hospitals for a Healthy Environment, we hope to find better ways to serve our customers, help the environment, and, in the process, become a more successful company."

Over the past ten years Baxter has worked to significantly reduce its energy use, packaging, and production waste. For example, the company has reduced its packaging by 13% since 1995 and its toxic emissions by 99% since 1988. As a "Champion for Change," Baxter will continue to advance its efforts to work with hospitals to minimize environmental impacts. Some of its current initiatives include:
  • Partnering with customers to identify and address the potential environmental impacts of new products during the development stage.
  • Researching innovative ways for raw-material suppliers and hospitals to reduce
    and recycle waste.
Hospitals for a Healthy Environment is a joint effort by the American Hospital Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Nurses Association, and Health Care Without Harm. These partners are committed to virtually eliminating mercury-containing waste from the industry’s waste stream by the year 2005, reducing the total volume of waste generated by 33% by 2005 and 50% by 2010, and minimizing the production of persistent bioaccumulative toxics in health care.

"We're trying to move an entire field to be more environmentally responsible and sustainable," said Laura Brannen, co-director of the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment program. "That's a monumental task, but we hope that in encouraging other health-care companies to participate in the H2E program with manufacturing leaders such as Baxter, we can meet our industry-wide goals of significant waste and toxicity reduction. It can only happen if we work collaboratively."

Hospitals for a Healthy Environment recently launched a new Web site with tools for hospitals, including a comprehensive list of resources for reducing mercury and step-by-step approaches to minimizing waste. A new H2E listserv gives health-care professionals a forum to share technical information and practical strategies for pollution prevention.