November 02, 2018

Why Sustainability Is Important in Health Care

Making the Commitment to Environmental Sustainability in Health Care Organizations

Preserving the environment is something most health care organizations acknowledge as important, however, many do not have formal programs in place to do so. Viewing sustainability as a “nice-to-have” rather than a top priority can be detrimental not only to a health care organization’s surrounding community, but also to its bottom line. There are several reasons why it’s essential for health care organizations to shift their thinking to put sustainability front and center in organizational priorities.

1. Sustainability Strategies Keep Harmful Items Out of the Environment

Every day, hospitals, health systems, physician practices and other health care organizations contribute to the billions of pounds of medical and other hazardous waste, much of which can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. If these substances leach into the surrounding landfills and waterways, they can potentially damage ecosystems and cause negative health issues for the community. By developing a sustainability program that ensures waste is correctly collected, segregated, treated and disposed of each and every time, health care organizations can be confident undesirable materials will not make their way into the environment.

2. Proper Medical Waste Disposal Prevents Fines and Other Financial Repercussions

Many communities have strict rules surrounding how waste and recycling are segregated and treated. If health care organizations don’t closely follow these rules, they can derail their community’s recycling and waste disposal efforts, potentially pollute the environment and incur costly fines. As such, it is critical to instill a comprehensive medical waste disposal program that ensures your staff consistently and correctly segregate all medical, hazardous, sharps and drug waste. The program should include clear processes for addressing different waste streams to make sure they are rendered harmless. Not only is this good for the environment, it can help your organization avoid costly ramifications to its reputation and balance sheet.

3. Health Care Organizations Are Part of a Community

Due to their underlying missions, health care organizations have a duty and responsibility to safeguard patients, staff and the community—and a strong sustainability program is a key part of that. Such a program entails reducing the organization’s carbon footprint, making sure harmful substances don’t get into landfills and water systems and managing internal operations to conserve resources, such as by employing reusable containers where possible, engaging in robust recycling, developing programs that mitigate the risk of environmental contamination and so on.

Our Dedication Can Amplify Yours

At Stericycle, we have a strong commitment to preserving the environment and engaging in sustainable practices. Our company has safely treated more than 1.7 billion pounds in medical waste and managed more than 1 billion pounds of hazardous waste. We’ve prevented over 48 million pounds of plastic from entering the environment by offering reusable sharps containers and stopped beyond 70 million pounds of pharmaceuticals from getting into landfills and surrounding waterways. Let our passion power your organization’s environmental preservation efforts.

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