URMC Continues Green Efforts

Jan. 11, 2010

Carbon emissions are being reduced every day at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) by eliminating disposable sharps containers and replacing them with reusable containers to keep plastic out of landfills.

A recent study by the University of Chicago Hospitals and published in JAMA1 found that the American healthcare sector accounts for 8% of the U.S. carbon footprint. The analysis found that hospitals are by far the largest contributor of carbon emissions in the healthcare sector.

URMC is lessening its carbon emissions by choosing the Sharps Management System using Bio Systems reusable containers by Stericycle. During 2009 URMC saw 198,468 pounds of carbon emissions prevented; and 338,514 pounds of plastic and 18,247 pounds of cardboard diverted from landfills. The CO2 emissions prevented is equal to not burning 10,000 gallons of gas.

A tool called the Carbon Footprint Estimator2  helps U.S. hospitals determine the amount of plastic and cardboard containers, and resulting CO2 emissions that they would keep out of the environment by switching the facility’s use of disposable sharps containers to reusable containers. Since 1986, U.S. hospitals using the same system have kept more than 75.6 million disposable containers out of landfills. Using Stericycle’s Carbon Footprint Estimator, URMC assesses its current carbon impact and is significantly lessening its CO2 emissions.

Each reusable container saves the equivalent of 600 from later going to landfills. According to Larry Weidner, URMC Director of Environmental Services, “URMC estimates it will eliminate over 300,000 pounds of plastic from going to the landfill each year. This service is not only good for the environment. It reduces our disposable costs and allows us to reinvest in more healthcare programs to benefit staff, patients, and our community.” 

1source: The University Chicago Medical Center