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Hospitals Purchasing, Using Safer Chemicals

hhi logoMore hospitals are reducing patient and staff exposure to toxins by purchasing and using safer chemicals, according to the 2014 Milestone Report, released by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI).

The report summarizes three years of progress among hospitals across the country that submitted data to quantify their sustainability efforts.

Hospitals participating in HHI worked throughout the past year to transition to PVC- and DEHP-free devices, to purchase more “green” certified cleaning products and to purchase at least 25 percent of furnishings without halogenated flame retardants, formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds and PVC.

According tot he report:

  • 172 hospitals reported making at least one product line DEHP- and PVC-free in 2014.
  • There was an 11.2 percent increase in spend on certified cleaning chemicals compared to total spend from 2013 to 2014.
  • In 2014, 18 hospitals reported that an average of 59.8 percent of furnishings purchased that year were free of the targeted chemicals of concern.
  • Fourteen hospitals met the goal of purchasing more than 25 percent of healthy furnishings.

The report also found that reductions in energy use and waste continue to drive cost savings. US hospitals emit 8 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and create 28.4 pounds of waste per hospital bed per day. Reducing the energy use in hospitals and increasing recycling and reuse are paramount to improving the sector’s environmental footprint.

Report highlights include:

  • In 2014, HHI’s Leaner Energy Challenge resulted in reduced energy use equivalent to avoiding 73,600 metric tons of CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In aggregate, the 395 reporting hospitals in 2014 recycled 122,000 tons of waste, and 68.4 percent of the reporting hospitals met or surpassed the 15 percent goal of recycling as a percentage of all waste, with an average recycling rate of 26.3 percent.

In its first year, HHI kept more than 100 million pounds of waste out of landfills.

Launched in April 2012, HHI was designed as a three-year national campaign to promote a more sustainable business model for health care, while reducing the negative health and environmental impacts of the industry. HHI will now continue as a free program of Practice Greenhealth, providing participating hospital systems with tools and resources to drive positive change.

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