Reducing Our Carbon Footprint 
 
Thursday, 19 August 2010 
 
Frye Regional Medical Center is striving to reduce carbon emissions by switching to a proactive service utilizing reusable sharps containers that prevent a significant amount of cardboard and plastic from going to the landfill each year. The hospital has implemented the Sharps Management Service using Bio Systems reusable containers by Stericycle (NASDAQ: SRCL) which keeps an average of 600 disposable sharps containers from going to the landfill for each reusable container used with this system. 

U.S. hospitals generate 6,600 tons of waste each day¹.  Whether hospitals choose to use disposable or reusable sharps containers, their regulated medical waste must be properly segregated and disposed for environmental and compliance reasons. Disposable containers end up in landfills, contributing to the sizable carbon footprint the healthcare industry makes.

A fall 2009 study by the University of Chicago Hospitals was published in JAMA² and 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, and the second most energy intensive industry³.   The EPA is upping its efforts to reduce carbon emissions across the U.S. as part of its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17% by 2012 from its 2009 baseline.

As hospitals begin to explore environmental best practices such as reducing waste and implementing sustainable waste management programs to minimize their footprints, “green teams” are seeking additional ways to improve their practices.  A 2009 survey by Practice Greenhealth, with more than 700 hospital members, found 64% were implementing medical waste reduction programs.  Yet few tools exist to specifically help measure a hospital’s environmental impact.  The Stericycle Carbon Footprint Estimator4  tool is designed to help U.S. hospitals determine the amount of plastic, cardboard and resulting CO2 emissions they are able to keep out of the environment by switching a healthcare facility or hospital system from disposable sharps containers to reusable containers.

In one year using the system, Frye Regional Medical Center plans to divert 10,413 pounds of CO2 from 17,549 pounds of plastic and 1,356 pounds of cardboard based on its bed size of 355. This carbon diversion is the equivalent to not burning 536 gallons of gasoline and 197 tanks of propane gas for home barbecues.

According to Marie Geissele, Assistant VP of Support Services, “By switching to Stericycle’s Sharps Management Service using Bio Systems reusable containers, we plan to significantly decrease our carbon footprint. We challenge every hospital to play a role in reducing the healthcare sector’s national carbon emissions.” 

Since 1986, U.S. hospitals using the Stericycle Sharps Management System Bio Systems reusable containers have kept more than 79 million disposable containers out of landfills.

Lake Forest, IL-based Stericycle (NASDAQ: SRCL) is a leader in healthcare-related services that protect people and reduce risk. With more than 430,000 customers worldwide, Stericycle has operations in North America, Europe, and Latin America. Visit www.stericycle.com.

Safe Harbor Statement: Statements in this press release may contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, some of which are beyond our control (for example, general economic conditions). Our actual results could differ significantly from the results described in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause such differences include changes in governmental regulation of medical waste collection and treatment and increases in transportation and other operating costs, as well as the other factors described in our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. As a result, past financial performance should not be considered a reliable indicator of future performance, and investors should not use historical trends to anticipate future results or trends. We make no commitment to disclose any subsequent revisions to forward-looking statements.          

1 Zimmerman, G. “The prescription for green health care facilities.” Building Operating Management, June 2009.

2 The University Chicago Medical Center                                                               

3 Schwartz, Judith D. “Putting Health Care on an Energy Diet.” TIME, November 10, 2008.

4 www.stericycle.com/carbon-footprint-estimator.html