Less Waste

There is no away. But there is “a way” to dispose of waste responsibly.

Ren Brumfield

Meet Ren, an experienced chemical safety officer who uses his combined knowledge of waste streams, environmental safety and relationship management to work with vendors, frontline environmental services staff, facilities and supply chain to ensure the implementation of a strong, well-communicated waste strategy. UH took a critical step forward in September 2015 by creating an internal System Waste Coordinator role to ensure a waste strategy focused on decreasing UH’s total waste, optimizing cost savings opportunities through waste segregation and addressing the numerous opportunities for positively impacting the communities we serve. In this coordinator role, Ren, along with other key stakeholders, continues to evaluate and improve upon this strategy so that UH is well-positioned as a responsible steward of the planet’s finite resources.

Program education, data tracking and event planning

The 2015 recycling rate across the system remained high for the health care industry, at 31 percent, even as we internalized our waste management strategy. New education and signage on single-stream recycling was distributed systemwide, and further plans were formulated to incorporate waste stream-specific educational materials into our internal, online learning management system. Single-stream recycling across the system, increased medical plastics recycling at several large medical centers, and the regular recycling of cardboard, wood and other materials continued to be efforts to decrease solid waste and increase recycling. We have also directed our focus on minimizing our waste footprint at system events that draw significant volumes of employees, community members or other participants, and typically produce large amounts of waste. For example, UH Case Medical Center, our largest campus, hosted a major near-zero waste employee picnic that drew thousands of employees in the summer of 2015.

Total System Waste in 2015, by weight

MedWish Donation

We strive to take every opportunity to prolong the useful life of the medical products that enter our system. By partnering with MedWish International, we have been able to repurpose and redistribute hundreds of thousands of pounds of lifesaving items to communities in need around the world. Common items include basic supplies, medical equipment and medical furniture like the items found on this MedWish supply list. In the past several years, we have steadily increased our systemwide donations to MedWish, with the largest increase in donations happening in 2015 at over 100,000 pounds repurposed.

Systemwide MedWish Donations


Food waste composting remains as an area of significant opportunity as the system struggled to expand its composting program at all locations. UH has explored opportunities to compost in our kitchens to manage preconsumer waste as responsibly as possible, while also examining event-specific composting opportunities that will allow us to handle significant volumes of organic waste at employee picnics, meetings and other large scale gatherings.

2015 Progress Report on Sustainability

2015 Progress Report on Sustainability

View the online report or download the summary. You can also view our archived progress reports here.

13 Environmental Excellence awards

UH earned 13 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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