The medical industry puts a tremendous toll on the environment by utilizing significant natural resources such as energy and water, as well as generating tons of landfill waste, so efforts to offset emissions and reduce waste are critical.
“We understand that we need to build a future where healthcare operates more sustainably,” said Hannah Anderson sustainability specialist at Medline. “This is why we plan to triple the size of our solar portfolio by the first quarter of 2022.”
The Medline Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program launched in 2016. It includes sustainable strategic investments, such as recycling and reprocessing programs, and a line of green products to lower the company’s carbon footprint and help partners do the same.
Solar and geothermal
With the addition of two planned installations of solar panels at its Montgomery, N.Y. and Uxbridge, Mass. facilities, the company will boast nine systems, at locations around the world, spanning more than 4 million square feet of rooftop. Medline’s total investment in solar power will go from $12.6 million to $33.3 million in 2021. The Montgomery and Uxbridge locations are expected to be the largest rooftop solar panel systems in their states.
The investment in solar as well as geothermal energy projects is paying off. For instance, the Tracy, Calif. location has offset 74 percent of electricity usage annually with its solar panels and the Auburndale, Fla. location has offset 94 percent. This has saved the company approximately $1.6 million in electricity at its U.S. solar facilities between 2018 and 2020 as a part of its Healthcare Resilience Initiative (HRI).
Real-world eco-friendly solutions
The HRI is the result of a three-year national capital expenditure campaign to support the long-term needs of healthcare providers, and includes $1.5 billion in new distribution centers, manufacturing capabilities, IT upgrades and sustainability investments. Medline’s sustainability programs, initiated to help healthcare partners make a positive impact on the environment and reduce costs, include:
- Sustainable Packaging Lab — In 2020, Medline launched a Sustainable Packaging Lab to help reduce supply chain waste. The lab is a cross-functional team of R&D, Sustainability, Operations and design experts and engineers who work to reimagine the way products are packaged—from the waste it generates to the space and time it takes up.
- ReNewal Medical Device Reprocessing – In 2020 alone, reprocessing medical devices diverted over 1 million pounds of waste from landfills
- OR Towel Take-Back – Instead of throwing away used operating room towels, Medline facilitates free pick-up of these towels and repurposes them for use outside of healthcare.
- Tote Exchange – Medline delivers products in reusable totes instead of cardboard containers to customers who order in bulk.
- Waste-to-Energy Gloves Program – Since 2018, 2,156 pounds of used exam gloves have been repurposed into clean, renewable energy.
- Disposable Cubicle Curtain Recycling Program – Medline provides bins for customers to place used cubicle curtains. Medline then picks up the curtains and recycles them.
Products that are manufactured responsibly, use recycled materials and incorporate less packaging are the goal of Medline’s Green Product Portfolio. The green products meet globally-recognized environmental certifications and environmentally-preferred purchasing guidelines from leading organizations.
“The combination of solar and geothermal solutions with our sustainability programs and green products create a trifecta designed to help reduce waste, conserve energy and protect the health and well-being of people and the planet,” concluded Anderson.
Learn more about Medline’s sustainability efforts.