Miami Children’s Hospital takes huge strides in greening hospital operations to improve air and water quality

Published on: 04/12/2010
Miami, Fla.  & Lake Forest, Ill. – Miami Children’s Hospital today announced its commitment to air and water quality standards by diminishing its environmental impact by implementing three green programs.  These programs are focused on reusable sharps containers, proper pharmaceutical waste disposal and overall recycling efforts. Miami Children’s is the first children’s hospital in Florida and one of several leading hospitals in the country to use all three programs introduced by Stericycle (NASQ: SRCL).

A recent study by the University of Chicago Hospitals and published in JAMA1 found that the American healthcare sector accounts for 8% of the U.S. carbon footprint. The analysis found that hospitals are by far the largest contributor of carbon emissions in the healthcare sector.

As hospitals begin to explore environmental practices, “green teams” are seeking ways to improve facility and health systems’ practices.  Few tools exist that specifically help determine a hospital’s environmental impact. 

Choosing reusable containers for all of its used sharps, such as needles and scalpels, keeps plastic out of landfills. Miami Children’s Hospital in one year has seen 21,151 pounds of carbon emissions prevented by diverting 35,936 pounds of plastic and 2,208 pounds of cardboard from landfills. This number is the equivalent of not burning 1,089 gallons of gasoline2.

Since 1986, U.S. hospitals like Miami Children’s that are using the Stericycle Sharps Management System Bio Systems reusable containers have kept more than 79 million disposable containers out of landfills. Each reusable container saves the equivalent of 600 from later going to landfills.

In addition to focusing on air quality, hospitals are major users of pharmaceuticals and are seeking assistance to effectively manage pharmaceutical waste. Between 1993 and 2009, more than 1,500 drugs were approved by the FDA.  The 1999-2000 U.S. Geological Survey found 80% of streams sampled had at least one waste contaminant1. Waste contaminants included pharmaceutical drugs such as endocrine disrupters and antibiotics. In a similar study in 2008, an Associated Press survey reported a detection of pharmaceuticals in drinking water that serves 41 million Americans.

Miami Children’s Hospital has also implemented a pharmaceutical waste compliance program. The process can be complex and ultimately affects the nation’s water supply if not disposed of properly. Pharmaceutical waste must be characterized, segregated, and transported in compliance with EPA, DOT and other regulators. The disposal must also be documented.

With many states passing legislation to address this issue, Miami Children’s Hospital is ahead of the compliance curve with the Stericycle Pharmaceutical Waste Compliance Service.

According to Wayne Cole, director of supply chain administration at Miami Children's Hospital, “By using these types of environmentally conscious programs, Miami Children’s Hospital is doing what is right for the environment, reducing related costs to stay competitive and reinvesting these savings in more healthcare programs that benefit staff, our patients and the community.” 

A third “green” initiative that Miami Children’s Hospital is implementing is Stericycle’s Integrated Waste Stream Solutions. This program manages all waste streams within the hospital, including regulated medical waste, solid and municipal waste, as well as recycled and other materials. “This program helps Miami Children’s Hospital minimize the complexities of managing all of our waste streams and reinforce our commitment to the health of our community,” said Cole.  “Along with a hospital’s regulatory risk and associated costs, maintaining state and federal compliance and focusing on green outcomes are just a few of the objectives that this program helps us meet,” said Cole.

About Miami Children’s Hospital
Founded in 1950 by Variety Clubs International, Miami Children's Hospital® is South Florida’s only licensed specialty hospital exclusively for children, with more than 650 attending physicians and over 130 pediatric sub-specialists. The 289-bed hospital is renowned for excellence in all aspects of pediatric medicine with several specialty programs ranked among the best in the nation in 2008 and 2009 by U.S. News & World Report. The hospital is also home to the largest pediatric teaching program in the southeastern United States and has been designated an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet facility, the nursing profession’s most prestigious institutional honor.  Visit

About Stericycle
Lake Forest, IL-based Stericycle (NASDAQ: SRCL) is a leader in healthcare-related services that protect people and reduce risk. With more than 440,000 customers worldwide, Stericycle has operations in North America, Europe, and Latin America. Visit

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1 source: The University Chicago Medical Center 

About Nicklaus Children's Hospital

Founded in 1950 by Variety Clubs International, Nicklaus Children's Hospital is South Florida's only licensed specialty hospital exclusively for children, with nearly 800 attending physicians and more than 475 pediatric subspecialists. The 309-bed hospital, known as Miami Children's Hospital from 1983 through 2014, is renowned for excellence in all aspects of pediatric medicine with many specialty programs routinely ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report since 2008. The hospital is also home to the largest pediatric teaching program in the southeastern United States and has been designated an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet facility, the nursing profession's most prestigious institutional honor. For more information, please visit

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