Southeast Hospital 'Going Green'

Batteries at Southeast Hospital are poured into a container to be recycled.

Southeast Hospital embraces "going green" as a standard practice, not a slogan. The Hospital recycles everything from batteries and printer cartridges to cardboard and disposable surgery instruments.

"Going green makes sense because it allows us to live and work in a healthier environment," says Debbie Goodhart, Southeast's Environmental Services director.

The Hospital also uses no-chemical floor scrubbers. These machines use electricity to charge water to perform like a powerful detergent. "These are the greenest machines on the market," says Goodhart.

"We have partnered with a company called Midwest Recycling which will take and recycle anything with a cord or a battery," she says.

Southeast recycles about 2,860 pounds of batteries a year and 2,200 printer cartridges. "We have started recycling disposable surgery instruments."

The Hospital also recycles about 1,500 pounds of heavy metals, old carts and machines each year. In addition, Southeast is on pace to annually recycle about 41,600 pounds of cardboard. The Hospital began recycling cardboard in July.

Southeast also works hard to conserve resources. "We always wash full loads of linens at a time, which saves about 400,000 gallons of water a year," Goodhart says.

"All of our paper supplies are from recycled material," she notes. In 2010, the Hospital used over 66,000 rolls of regular toilet paper, 1,050 jumbo rolls of toilet paper, 43,000 packages of paper towels, more than 4,000 rolls of paper towels and 2,300 jumbo rolls of paper towels.

Southeast relies on microfiber cleaning clothes and mops, each of which can be washed up to 500 times and reused.

About half of all the Hospital's cleaning chemicals are "Green Seal" certified, which means they have been tested and found to be environmentally friendly.

"All of our personal health information paper is recycled through a company called Cintas," Goodhart says. The company picks up the paper weekly and shreds it on site. Then, the shredded paper is taken to St. Louis and recycled.

Last year, Cintas shredded 500,000 pounds of paper from Southeast's facilities. According to the recycling firm, the Hospital's recycled paper saved 4,632 trees, 103,360 gallons of oil and 1.9 million gallons of water that otherwise would have been needed to produce an equivalent amount of new paper, and saved 816 cubic yards of landfill.