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Washington Hospital Wins Environmental Award

November 23, 2010

On Thursday, November 4, Washington Hospital received the 2010 StopWaste Business Efficiency Award for outstanding achievements in waste reduction and environmental performance. The Hospital was singled out with 11 other local companies and organizations by StopWaste.org, which is facilitated by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority.

Since the Hospital’s Green Team was formed two years ago, several facility-wide recycling and compostable collection programs have been implemented. Highlights in the last year have included a successful take-back program for the public, allowing people to drop off unwanted or un-used medications for safe disposal. This program collected two tons of medications in 2009.

The hospital also replaced disposable plastic containers for used syringes and other medical sharps with reusable ones throughout the facility. This program alone is expected to eliminate sending 9.1 tons of plastic waste to the landfill each year.

"We recognize the critical link between the health of each individual and the health of the environment," said Paul Kelley, Director of Biomedical Engineering and Green Initiative. "That’s why we are committed to environmentally responsible practices and are taking the lead to promote a healthier community."

Employee engagement is a critical element of the Washington Hospital’s environmental efforts. The Green Team keeps hospital staff informed and motivated though newsletters and sustainability education fairs, and values their suggestions for improvement. In 2009, Washington Hospital hosted the "Let’s Go Green Together" community event with a farmers market, an exhibition hall for local agencies and vendors engaged in green activities, and educational games for families and children.

"So many people throughout the Hospital are enthusiastic about reducing our environmental impact," adds Kelley. "Going green has been a real team effort."

Kelley has chaired the Hospital’s Green Team Committee since August 2008 and since the committee’s formation, the hospital has implemented a wide range of waste reduction measures, including a facility-wide recycling and compostables collection program. To prevent waste, the hospital has replaced plastic foam food service ware and other disposable products in their cafeteria with recyclable and compostable ware. Working with their suppliers, the hospital has also switched from cardboard boxes to reusable totes for produce deliveries to the cafeteria, reducing cardboard waste.

In June, Washington Hospital earned an Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth, a national organization for healthcare institutions that have made a commitment to environmentally responsible practices. The "Partner for Change Award" was presented in recognition of Washington Hospital’s achievements in developing programs to prevent pollution, reduce and recycle solid waste, eliminate mercury, reduce water and energy consumption and establish "green" purchasing policies.

To learn more about Washington Hospital’s "Green Team" initiatives, visit www.whhs.com/green.