Less Waste

Waste Reduction and Recycling Initiatives At University Hospitals

Sustainable Cleveland 2019: Zero Waste

We seek to minimize waste through source reduction, re-use, recycling, and composting programs, and ensure that waste is disposed in a safe and responsible manner.

Everything that we buy goes somewhere when we are finished using it—including waste that is thrown away. In our closed ecosystem, there is no “away”. There are only different methods of handling the waste that we generate, and different human and environmental consequences of those methods.

Every day, U.S. hospitals generate hundreds of pounds of waste—regulated medical waste, municipal solid waste, recyclable materials, hazardous waste, universal waste (such as batteries), pharmaceutical waste, compostable material, reusable materials (donated supplies and furniture), and construction and demolition debris, just to name a few.

Waste that ends up in a landfill takes up valuable land and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and the leaching of pollutants into groundwater. When medical waste is incinerated, byproducts that are detrimental to human and environmental health are released into the environment. Conscientious management of our waste can minimize our contribution to these byproducts.

Properly disposing of waste materials can also save our organization hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, which is money that can otherwise be invested in patients and employees.

We are developing a multidimensional approach to reducing waste and increasing recycling by:

  • Introducing new recycling programs and expanding existing recycling programs at UH medical centers and ambulatory locations
  • Working with our suppliers on strategies to minimize packaging waste
  • Donating usable furniture and fixtures to local charitable organizations
  • Partnering with MedWish International to donate medical supplies to humanitarian efforts in developing countries and disaster areas around the world

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10 Environmental Excellence awards

UH earned 10 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award. The awards recognize our health system’s achievements in environmental-sustainability programs and improvements during 2015.

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