Waste reduction

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Our approach: reduce, reuse and recycle

Fairview seeks innovative ways to reduce waste to help prevent pollution and keep valuable materials out of landfills. We are reducing waste at its source, finding new ways to reuse items and recycling items that can't be reused.

Source reduction
Operating room surgical packs
It is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of waste from a hospital is generated in the operating room (OR). With help from an operating room Green Team, we analyzed and eliminated unnecessary and unused disposable items from pre-assembled packs.

Through kit reformulations, we divert 10,553 pounds of waste and save $116,000 each year. Our successful efforts led the Healthier Hospitals Initiative to adopt “surgical kit review” into its smarter purchasing challenge for U.S. Hospitals.

Learn more about the Greening the OR™ Initiative.

Paper-reduction pledge
To reduce our paper use, our staff have made paper-reduction pledges at Fairview sites to:
  • reduce how often we print hard copies
  • use duplex printing when printing is necessary
  • limit color printing
  • use email to send documents
Paper-reduction pledges at six Fairview sites yielded a reduction of more than 10 percent at each site.

Reducing junk mail
Junk mail not only generates waste, but it also creates inefficiencies throughout our organization as junk mail passes from person to person. At Fairview Northland Medical Center, University of Minnesota Medical Center and Fairview Southdale Hospital, we've reduced more than 6,000 pounds of junk mail overall by partnering with Partnership Resources, Inc. Learn how you can reduce junk mail.

Reducing packaging
Fairview teamed up with Cardinal Health to reduce cardboard packaging for isolation gowns sent to University of Minnesota Medical Center. By substituting one large box for 14 smaller boxes, we are able to annually reduce packaging by 54 percent and eliminate 8,167 pounds of cardboard.

In-kind donations
Through our sustainability initiatives, we work to reuse and reallocate our supplies across our organization. When cannot find an in-house reuse option for our supplies, we donate these materials to other non-profit organizations better suited to reuse them, such as medical missions, local charities and schools.

With our donations, we can support the communities we serve and keep valuable materials out of the waste stream.


Reuse stores
In an innovative effort to reduce waste and improve efficiency, we’ve launched Reuse stores for office supplies at several of our hospitals and offices. Through reuse, we can redistribute unused items to departments who need them, instead of ordering new. Our hospital Reuse stores are stocked with commonly used items, and staff can continue to donate supplies back to the store for additional reuse.
Several hospitals have expanded their reuse stores to include furniture, medical equipment and artwork, increasing our opportunity for reuse.

We have increased our overall recycling rate from 21 percent in 2009 to 38 percent in 2013.

What do we recycle?
We recycle cardboard, cans, plastic bottles, glass, newspaper, paper, magazines, surgical blue wrap, shrink wrap, electronics, construction waste and organics.

Sustain2In 2010, we teamed up with Minnesota Waste Wise and PPL Industries to create a recycling program for surgical blue wrap and shrink wrap. Blue wrap, a material made from polypropylene (plastic #5), is used as a protective wrap for sterilized surgical instruments before surgery.

Since its launch in 2010, Fairview has recycled more than 62 tons of blue wrap and 35 tons of shrink wrap. Shrink wrap is recycled into composite lumber used for construction of decks and railings.

Many Twin Cities hospitals have joined us in recycling blue wrap and, together, we’ve recycled more than 110 tons since 2010. As a result of this initiative, Fairview received the Minnesota Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention in 2010.

Partnerships that provide services to adults with developmental disabilities
Savings from recycling at Fairview supports recycling crews from both Merrick Inc. and Partnership Resources Inc.

We partner with these two local non-profits to provide meaningful vocational and social opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. Crews consisting of clients and job coaches collect recycling at multiple Fairview hospitals.
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