By Greenhealth Staff on July 9, 2012

Sustainability Program Manager Francesca Olivier shares the company’s initiatives to help create a greener planet.

Medline, a company that provided products and clinical solutions to the health care market, began its company-wide sustainability initiative nearly a decade ago by working to conserve energy and dramatically lower greenhouse emissions within its own footprint. Since then, the company has worked to green its entire operation, from sourcing, manufacturing, and packaging to distribution, use, and disposal. “We believe this practice not only is good for our business but is the right thing to do for the long-term sustainability of our planet,” says Francesca Olivier, Medline’s Sustainability Program Manager. Olivier was hired in 2011 to expand the company’s green efforts. Olivier challenges Medline suppliers to use environmentally friendly practices, such as renewable energy and raw materials in the manufacturing process, and to find innovative reuses for manufacturing waste. One example is a facility in India that manufactures bath towels for Medline; the facility collects lint from local mills to make lint bricks that fuel its boiler.

In the past few years, the link between environmental issues and human health has become more apparent, so Medline developed the Greensmart Sustainability Program to address customers’ concerns. “At Medline, we think of sustainability as a journey—some hospitals are just getting started while others are further along,” notes Olivier. Greensmart, which officially launched in June, provides consultation and resources for every step of the sustainability process. “The program is a collaborative partnership between Medline and our environmentally conscious customers in which we work together to help meet each hospital’s sustainability goals and priorities,” explains Olivier. “Since each hospital’s needs are different, the particular deliverables differ from hospital to hospital, but there are four components that drive the program: assessments, metrics, education, and marketing support.”

One of the most recent sustainability initiatives at Medline is the “take-back” programs that help hospitals meet their sustainability goals. “In the Pacific Northwest we currently have a recycling take-back program, which we operate in partnership with a local recycling facility that employs developmentally disabled adults.

In recent months, Medline has been presented with two leadership awards for its commitment to environmental stewardship: the Novation Environmental Excellence Leadership Award, for providing Novation’s more than 65,000 members and affiliates of VHA Inc., UHC, and Provista with a best-in-class environmental program, and the 2012 Practice Greenhealth Champion for Change Award, for making outstanding contributions to environmentally responsible health care.

“Through the company’s ‘life cycle’ approach, we provide our customers with environmental metrics that reflect how they are lightening their impact on the earth through landfill diversion, chemicals removed from the life cycle, and gallons of water saved,” states Olivier. One of Medline’s products that stands out in terms of environmental and cost savings is the PerfecTemp reusable patient warming bed. The alternative system to PerfecTemp would be forced air, which uses disposable blankets that cost approximately $8 to $10 each; they are used once and then discarded. Medline’s PerfecTemp reusable patient warming bed eliminates the need for disposable blankets, which diverts waste from landfills and saves customers money and waste disposal. PerfecTemp is also 80 percent more energy efficient than forced air blankets, and because it uses conductive heat instead of convective heat, the problem of excess heat being emitted into the room during surgery is eliminated. A typical operating room can save almost a ton of solid waste in addition to 13,620 kilowatt hours and 12 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year—not to mention the cost savings from reduced energy usage and waste disposal in landfills.

New Business Members

  • 3M, St. Paul, MN
  • Alpar Architectural Products, LLC
    Minneapolis, MN
  • B.W. Recycling, Inc., Hallandale, FL
  • Beacon Converters, Saddle Brook, NJ
  • Boston Scientific, Natick, MA
  • Implant Recycling, LLC, Detroit, MI
  • Quest Healthcare Solutions, Frisco, TX
  • SOS Partners, Depere, WI
  • Stericycle, Northbrook, IL
  • Weston Solutions, Inc., West Chester, PA
  • Znergy, Lutz, FL

ReNewing Business Members

  • Boulder Associates Architects, Boulder, CO
  • Energy Solutions USA, Elmira, NY
  • HDR Architecture, Inc., Omaha, NE
  • Hospira Worldwide, Inc., Lake Forest, IL
  • Mantrameds, Denver, CO
  • Perkins + Will, Chicago, IL
  • Powersmiths International Corporation Brampton, Ontario, Canada
  • Velmed, Inc., Gibsonia, PA
  • Verdis Group, Omaha, NE
  • Xenex Healthcare Services, Austin, TX