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Kaiser Permanente Unveils Sustainability Scorecard for Medical Products

Kaiser Permanente has unveiled its Sustainability Scorecard that requires suppliers to provide environmental data for medical equipment and products used in its hospitals, medical offices and other facilities.

Claimed as the health-care industry’s first sustainability scorecard for suppliers, the new initiative could significantly impact how medical device manufacturers do business in the future since Kaiser Permanente spends more than $1 billion each year on medical products.

By September, when Kaiser Permanente’s key supply chain partner, Broadlane, adopts the tool, the scorecard could influence $10 billion in medical purchasing.

The Sustainability Scorecard will allow the health-care provider to evaluate the sustainability of each medical item it purchases, while encouraging suppliers to provide greener products.

The scorecard will require suppliers to provide information on the company’s environmental commitment, use of potentially harmful chemicals in their products and information about product and packaging recycling.

Kaiser’s scorecard could do for the medical industry what Wal-Mart’s sustainability index and packaging scorecard are doing to green its supply chain.

The scorecard is similar to Wal-Mart’s sustainability index in that it asks questions about the sustainable practices of its suppliers including climate change action, greenhouse gas reduction targets, renewable energy use, environmentally-preferable purchasing and end-of-life product takeback programs. Wal-Mart’s index also includes a section on people and community.

Wal-Mart’s packaging scorecard measures vendor products based on various metrics including GHG emissions, product-to-package ratio, and the amount of renewable energy used throughout the manufacturing and delivery process. In comparison, Kaiser’s scorecard focuses on the content of hazardous substances and post-consumer recycled materials.

The company’s current policies already provide environmental guidelines for products ranging from greener cleaning chemicals to IV tubing free of potentially harmful chemicals. It’s also working with suppliers to eliminate the use of products and equipment that contain mercury.

The scorecard is the latest announcement in a string of sustainable initiatives launched by the company since 2007. As an example, Kaiser Permanente eliminated about 45.7 tons of medical waste in 2007 by working with Ascent Healthcare Solutions, a leading reprocessing company. The company also embarked on a green building plan in 2007 for both new and existing hospitals.

Last month, the health-care provider announced plans to deploy 15 megawatts (MW) of solar power across 15 facilities in California by the summer of 2011. The solar project is claimed as one of the largest sustainable energy programs in U.S. health care.

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