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Sustainability and Medical Waste Management: How Companies are Reducing Their Carbon Footprint

Medical waste management has been an ongoing issue as hospitals throughout the nation generate about 6,600 tons of waste every day. With rising oil prices and the cost of resin and energy increasing, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals are researching sustainable packaging initiatives. While many options aren’t recycled content, more sustainable manufacturing, weight, and waste management still goes a long way in conserving energy. 

Commitment to Sustainability in Medical Waste Management

Lupin Pharmaceuticals

Lupin Pharmaceuticals focuses on global clinical development, but U.S. annual revenue alone has surpassed $1 billion as of 2017. In 2015, one of Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inhalation R&D and Pilot Manufacturing centers was established in Coral Springs, Florida. To date, they are in the top five of largest generic manufacturers in the nation based on dispensed prescriptions. 

With its large influence within and extending beyond South Florida, the company’s commitment to employee and environmental health is setting a great example for other large pharmaceutical companies. Not only has the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector deemed it a ‘Great Place to Work’ for its 20,000 staff, but Lupin also received the certification for International Sustainability Rating System (ISRS). 

Allergan Pharmaceuticals

Allergan Pharmaceuticals has several notable certifications, including the EPA ENERGY STARⓇ Sustained Excellence for their focus on energy consumption, waste management, and recycling. The company hosts an annual event for their employees called ‘Energy Treasure Hunt,’ where staff identifies low-cost energy-saving strategies for operations and maintenance actions. Over 20,000 tons of CO2 have been saved through the 400 projects created at this event, as well as hazardous waste.

In 2018, 66% of waste generated by their operations was being recycled. This percentage is projected to increase to 100% during this decade. 

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson, a multinational corporation with multiple establishments in South Florida, is another company that has adopted sustainable business practices. Part of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), Johnson & Johnson adopts a sustainable packaging system that focuses on producing materials with a positive end of life, avoiding the limits concerning recycled content. 

West Kendall Baptist Hospital

Miami’s West Kendall Baptist Hospital is known as one of the most environmentally friendly hospitals in the world. Built with sustainability in mind, the hospital utilizes Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood and other eco-friendly building materials. Its energy and water efficiencies also contribute to its Gold LEED certification, awarded in 2011. Baptist Health recycles more than 20 tons of waste per month, conducts paperless purchases, and utilizes recycled printing supplies. 

The Bolton Medical Office

The Bolton Medical office in Sunrise, Florida, is a Terumo Aortic company with strong initiatives to address climate change. Besides having notable emissions goals - reducing their footprint by 30% by 2030 - many of their products follow the intention of being HumanxEco. 

More specifically:

- More friendly - safety and reliability
- More advanced - advancing health care
- Cleaner - reducing environmental impact
- Less - use resources effectively

One example of their HumanxEco product is the TERUPACK™ Eco Environmentally Friendly IV Solution Bag. Because it weighs over 20% less compared to others, it automatically generates less waste. It is also made with less plastic, and the manufacturing process is continuously being refined to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint. 

Medical Waste Management: How New Regulations Created a New Industry

The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates 26 pounds per patient per day contributes to harmful environmental factors, such as:

- Traces of medical contaminants and pharmaceuticals found in drinking water
- A large carbon footprint 
- Mishandling of toxic cleaning products and containers, leading to the spread of infections, higher risk of occupational asthma, and ecosystemic harm 

In 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized regulations for the management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals by healthcare facilities and reverse distributors that significantly impacted health care facility protocols. 

The new regulation created a more conscious handle on employee training for waste, accumulation standards, and affiliated reports as well as made it illegal to dispose of hazardous materials in toilets and drains. As a result, sustainable waste management has become a growing industry within the life science hub. 

Triumvirate Environmental

Located in Davie, Florida, Triumvirate Environmental offers hazardous waste disposal and expanding onsite waste management services - not only throughout Broward County - but into the rest of the U.S. and Canada.  

With a mission to provide environmentally-friendly services that are holistic and upstream, Triumvirate’s Red2Green program converts medical waste into plastic lumber through industrial waste recycling to keep up to 20% of clients’ waste out of landfills. 

Triumvirate outlines their social responsibility in three categories:

- Environmental protection and sustainable development
- Human rights
- Access to high-quality education and healthcare

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