Good Environmental Practices Make Good Neighbors

We believe that protecting our environment while providing quality patient care is critical to our community’s long-term health. Associates from all departments have helped Sparrow become a national leader in environmentally responsible healthcare.

Another benefit of this ongoing environmental process improvement program is that, while we are helping to develop a healthier community and hospital environment, we also are realizing meaningful financial savings associated with recycling, reuse and waste reduction.

Being recognized by Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) for the fifth consecutive year clearly reflects our dedication to pollution prevention. The Hospitals for a Healthy Environment organization represents a partnership of the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, Health Care Without Harm and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sparrow recently earned a 2006 Sustained H2E Leadership Award, the premier award granted by Hospitals for a Healthy Environment. This award is presented annually to health systems nationwide in recognition of outstanding environmental performance. Award recipients are distinguished by their pioneering efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the healthcare industry by implementing innovative programs that set industry standards for waste reduction and pollution prevention.

Here’s a snapshot of the waste reduction/recycling activities in 2005 that helped Sparrow earn national recognition for its pollution prevention efforts:

  • Recycling single use devices eliminated 5,003 pounds from the solid waste stream, saving the hospital more than $3,900 in regulated medical waste costs.
  • Requiring contractors to recycle demolition waste diverted 442 tons from the landfill, saving the hospital more than $22,000.
  • More than 84,481 pounds of computers, monitors and other electronic equipment were recycled. The vendor was required to recover all raw materials per EPA guidelines and provide the hospital with a Certificate of Recycling as well as a Certificate of Data Elimination for each pick up.
  • More than 85 pieces of furniture (beds, chairs, office furniture) were donated to two neighboring county hospitals. Another 42 pieces of furniture were donated to other local not-for-profit organizations.
  • 132 mattresses were donated to the local mission.
  • Medical equipment was donated to Michigan State University, American Red Cross and other not-for-profit organizations.
  • A 40-foot semi-trailer was filled with medical supplies, medical equipment, beds, furniture and computers for the Lansing Regional Sister Cities Commission with a final destination of Ghana, Africa.
  • A total of 155 computer systems were donated to other not-for-profit organizations.
  • 5,810 pounds of prepared food was donated to Food Movers.
  • 12,900 pounds of cooking oil was recycled from Sparrow kitchens.
  • 58 tons of pallets were recycled.
  • Sparrow Environmental Services Department switched to a microfiber mopping system, resulting in $10,000 of savings in chemical usage and saving 314,000 gallons of water.
  • 360,000 pounds of paper and cardboard were recycled.

We are proud to be a national leader in the trend toward environmentally responsible healthcare. Sparrow is deeply committed to its ongoing environmental process improvement program, making our community a better place to live and creating a safer and healthier hospital environment for our patients, visitors, staff, physicians and volunteers.

If you would like to learn more about the process Sparrow has embraced, Hospitals for a Healthy Environment can help. The leading national force in helping hospitals with environmental improvements, H2E provides practical solutions and expert help for environmental challenges. Its website features a Listserv where colleagues across the country share best practices and strategies for pollution prevention as well as many useful resources. Visit

Reza Tavakoli is director of Sparrow Environmental Services.








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