On April 3, 11 of the world’s leading healthcare systems convened in Washington D.C. to discuss medical waste – a problem that produces four billion pounds of waste each year. As an industry, medicine trails just behind food in total waste generated.
The Healthier Hospitals Initiative seeks to reduce the industry’s impact on the planet through six pinpointed challenges to at least 2,000 hospitals in 50 states, including engaging leadership, using leaner energy, reducing waste, purchasing safer chemicals, buying smarter products and making healthier food.
Each participating hospital and healthcare organization will regularly report on their progress of each challenge, leading to an overall more sustainable future for health care, the HHI says on its website.
Every day, hospitals and other health providers produce a staggering 11.7 tons of waste. HHI aims to reduce waste and, when possible, reuse instruments after effective cleaning and disinfecting. As of now, hospitals generate 26 pounds of waste per day for every staffed bed, the HHI claims. Their objective is to reduce that number down to 3 pounds per day through achieving a recycling rate of 15 percent, and in the long run, 25 percent or more.
“The health care sector has virtually no choice but to become more environmentally responsible,” HHI says on its website. “That must change.”