Gundersen's waste management program incorporates recycling and reduction as well as waste planning and control.
Two accomplishments that stand out include:
- Reducing pre-consumer food waste by more than 80 percent from a baseline established in 2010.
- Reducing pharmaceutical and hazardous waste by more than 40 percent from 2010 to 2012.
Easy changes help reduce food waste, save money
As with any dietary program, there will always be some amount of food leftover and scraps from food prep. In 2010, the Nutrition and Hospitality Services department at Gundersen began using a food waste tracking system called LeanPath®. Baseline results were shocking: about half a ton of food waste was thrown away every week. The LeanPath program provided data staff used to make some fairly simple adjustments to reduce food waste. By 2015, food waste decreased by more than 850 pounds per week, an 80 percent improvement from baseline, equating to an average cost savings of over $30,000.
A byproduct of the food waste reduction program was the creation of a food donation program. Instead of going in the garbage, daily leftovers that are safe to eat but cannot be served in the hospital due to food service regulations are packaged and delivered to the local Salvation Army. Gundersen donates more than 500 meals a month.
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Developing an extensive pharmaceutical waste program
When Gundersen's in-house pharmaceutical waste program was created in 2009, the organization was spending $151,000 per year disposing of pharmaceutical waste. Through comprehensive measures and teamwork, Gundersen spent less than $10,000 on hazardous waste disposal in 2015. In addition, 345 pounds of controlled pharmaceutical waste was diverted from the sewer system in the first six months. Today, all pharmaceutical waste is incinerated according to environmental best practices.
Employees sort and separate hazardous waste for shipment, eliminating the need for a third party vendor to package the waste.