A Watershed Moment: Waste Reduction in Health Care Systems

On today’s episode we hear from Sarah Chartier, Sustainability Coordinator at Spectrum Health, who discusses waste reduction initiatives within health care systems, including recycling, re-purposing and composting.

Hospitals create a large amount of waste, which has led many hospitals and health care systems, like Spectrum Health, to form programs to reduce both their costs and environmental footprints. Part of the the vision of Spectrum Health is to “improve human health, enhance the natural environment and practice fiscal responsibility.” A recycling program was implemented in 2009, and has come to save the hospital $13,000 per year, in addition to keeping 560,000 pounds of trash from entering landfills. A partnership has also formed with Midwest Reprocessing in a program to reprocess used medical devises, by either sterilizing them or melting them down so that they can be formed into new medical tools and sold back to the hospital. A compost system has also been set up at the Butterworth and Blodgett locations.

According to Chartier, waste reduction is more than just reducing trash and decreasing costs, but has positive effects on air quality as well. If not for the recycling and composting programs, trash would end up getting burned in incinerators, which leads to air pollution, or being collected in landfills, while can lead to leakage and greenhouse gases, both which lead to climate change.

To listen to this episode, click here.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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