The color green and hospitals really don't evoke pleasant images from patients. But a biodegradable plastics company is hoping that green is going to become an intricate part of the hospital setting in the next few years. In fact, Perf Go Green Holdings (PGGH; New York) is banking on it.
The neophyte company recently reported that it had been selected to provide biodegradable materials to Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network (LVHHN; Allentown, Pennsylvania) in the companies first major hospital conversion.
"We're very excited about partnering with Lehigh Valley and we're hoping for our partnerships to spread to other hospitals throughout the country," Linda Daniels Chief Marketing officer of Perf-Go Green Holdings told Medical Device Daily.
The company will provide biodegradable trash bags to LVHHN which will be used in Perf Go Green's trash bags in all of its hospital and health services facilities. LVHHN's three hospitals have a combined total of nearly 1,000 beds, 1,100 physicians on staff, and 1,900 registered nurses.
Perf-Go recycles plastics and then attaches a biodegradable additive to the material to form its products. The products are FDA approved for food contact according to the company.
"The additive helps break down plastics faster," Daniels said. "Our materials can be broken down to water carbon dioxide and biomass which is dirt."
Linda Zengen, LVHHN waste reduction specialist, added, "LVHHN is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, and these biodegradable bags will go a long way in helping us accomplish that goal. So we are not only helping the environment by switching to these bags, but are also saving money. It's a huge cost savings for the organization."
According to the hospital the LVHHN's conversion to Perf-Go Green's biodegradable trash bags is part of the organization's comprehensive environmental program. LVHHN has also implemented a series of recycling initiatives, invested in energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems, installed reflective roofing materials, and taken other steps to reduce its environmental impact.
But "going green" isn't an alien practice for the healthcare industry. To date healthcare has made moves toward becoming more environmentally friendly, including the closure of more than 5,000 incinerators across the country. The effort seems to be gaining traction beyond pollution control into places such as waste toxic material reduction and water and energy conservation.
Such initiatives are sorely needed since the Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans – including residents, businesses and institutions – produced more than 236 million tons of disposable waste such as plastics. That's 4.5 pounds of trash every day for every man, woman and child in this country.
"There is a tremendous amount of plastic out there," Daniels said.
"We're delighted that such a prominent institution as LVHHN recognizes the contribution Perf Go Green can make to reduce the environmental impact of its daily operations," said the company's CEO and chairman Tony Tracy. "Our commercial product can be tailored for all kinds of applications and offers an important way for healthcare facilities, which by necessity generate large amounts of waste, to do the right thing for our environment. Hospitals are an important target group for Perf Go Green, and we're thrilled that LVHHN is setting a trend for other healthcare institutions to follow."
As to the number of hospitals that are on tap to follow LVHHN's path, the company isn't commenting just who is in the can yet.
"We can say that no one has really said no to us and this is a growing market and people are interested in doing what's right for the environment," Daniels told MDD.
Perf-Go Green was incorporated in January 2008. The company said it develops products biodegrade within two years, decomposing into simple materials found in nature much faster than regular plastics, which can take hundreds of years to break down.