Sustainability strategies in healthcare: Manage information in an environmentally-friendly way

Iron Mountain

The negative impact the healthcare industry has on the environment is significant. For example, 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the healthcare sector and materials used in the industry result in nearly 7,000 tons of waste every day. Not only is this horrible for the environment, it’s also costing healthcare organizations billions.

Although this picture is bleak, the tide is beginning to change for the better. A recent survey found that more than half of hospitals in the United States now make sustainability a factor in purchasing decisions. The survey also found that over 80 percent of hospitals in the U.S. expect to engage in sustainability within two years.

The question is, when making these purchasing decisions, where should healthcare organizations be investing their money to ensure those decisions lead to sustainability?

Here are some sustainability strategies in healthcare to consider.

Sustainable secure shredding

The United States annually consumes more than 80 million tons of paper. But once there is no longer any use for that file or record, where does it go?

One way your healthcare organization can begin to have a positive impact on the environment is to make sure retired records are being disposed of in an environmentally friendly way; i.e. being recycled. However, privacy and security are an important consideration when recycling records. Secure shredding is the ideal option as it provides the best of both worlds: security and sustainability. To make sure your secure shredding vendor or process is both secure and sustainable, it’s important to ensure a green report, a certificate of destruction and documented secure chain-of-custody are available.

Remarket and recycle e-waste

E-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in the world with over 48 million tons produced in 2018. For this reason, it’s critical IT leaders put the policies and process in place to ensure data center and healthcare IT assets are disposed of in a way that is both environmentally friendly and secure.

When looking for an ITAD partner, make sure they:

  • follow the strictest guidelines
  • has a defensible, documented and repeatable process
  • can convert IT hardware into a new revenue stream securely and sustainably

Recycle sterilization wrap

Every year, 255 million pounds of sterilization wrap is thrown away. Healthcare organizations have two options when it comes to disposing of sterilization wrap: landfill disposal and recycling. Interestingly enough, some organizations are finding that recycling can not only reduce negative environmental impact but it can reduce overall disposal costs. Assessing the cost of these two options, factoring in the transportation costs, one health system realized that the eco-friendly choice actually netted out to roughly half the cost of landfill disposal.

Use a Green Powered Data Center

Global data centers consumed 416 terawatts in 2017, nearly 40% more power than the entire United Kingdom. This consumption doubles every four years. However, with new fully transparent renewable energy data center solutions healthcare organizations continue to scale to growing capacity demands while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Doing Good and Doing Business

Minimizing the environmental impact of managing information in a meaningful and measurable way doesn’t have to be separate from doing business. Healthcare organizations have the opportunity to contribute to an industry-wide movement to reduce waste and enable more environmentally conscious management of information.



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