The University Record, April 22, 2002

Health System receives two environmental excellence awards

By Krista Hopson
Health System Public Relations

The U-M Health System (UMHS), along with several other hospitals across the nation, was honored recently with two awards for setting a high standard in environmental practices in health care. The awards were made at the first Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) ceremony in Washington, D.C.

UMHS was one of three hospitals to receive H2E’s most prestigious honor, the “Environmental Leadership Award.” This award is given to hospitals that have set significant industry standards to reduce the impact of heath care on the environment. Specifically, UMHS has set in motion programs to recycle paper, plastic materials from operating room procedures, solvents from the pathology laboratories, batteries, beverage cans and scrap metal. In 2001, UMHS also converted its waste management process from incineration to steam sterilization, or autoclaving.

For its efforts to significantly reduce the institution’s use of mercury, H2E presented UMHS with the “Making Medicine Mercury Free Award.” In the past three years, UMHS has established or advanced programs to remove mercury-containing devices, to recycle fluorescent lamps that contain mercury and to replace mercury-containing switches in older equipment with non-mercury ones.

Additionally, UMHS recently was honored with several other awards for its commitment to environmental excellence:

  • The Michigan Recycling Coalition’s “2001 Outstanding Public Recycling Program” award, which is the state’s highest honor.

  • This past January, the National Recycling Coalition recognized U-M’s recycling program, which includes UMHS, as the “Best School Program” in the country. The award was due in part to the UMHS plastic recycling program, which recycles four different grades of plastics generated in operating rooms.

  • The international environmental group, Health Care Without Harm, recognized UMHS’s efforts to go mercury-free and saluted its efforts to convert waste-management to steam-sterilization (autoclaving) in 1999.

    The H2E is a joint program of the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, Health Care Without Harm and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.