In The Community

Environmental Stewardship

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

Kaiser Permanente makes a significant effort to reduce the amount of waste it generates by implementing vigorous waste reduction programs throughout the organization. Our waste reduction policy requires facility managers to track and report annual volumes of waste generated so progress can be effectively measured and managed.

Our 2025 Goal: We will recycle, reuse, or compost 100 percent of our non-hazardous waste.

We are making tremendous strides in eliminating waste across the organization. As of the end of 2015, Kaiser Permanente diverted 36% of its waste from landfills.

Most of the waste generated in health care operations is similar to that generated by non-medical organizations. This includes paper, cardboard, bottles and cans, computers and other electronic equipment. But health care also has unique waste streams such as biohazardous waste, radiological waste, and hazardous waste such as solvents. Waste must be properly managed and treated in order to prevent public health problems.

Actions that reduce our solid waste include reprocessing, selling, or recycling our used medical equipment and devices, and recycling paper, glass and aluminum. Also, our electronic medical record system, in use across all of our medical facilities, has dramatically decreased the use of paper forms.

What you can do

  • Contact your local recycling management company to make sure you have the latest information on what your business or household can recycle. As different recycling and reprocessing opportunities become available in your community, you may find that items you once thought were disposable are now recyclable or reusable.
  • One of the greatest ways you can reduce waste is not to produce it in the first place. Where possible, consider reuse of items, buying second-hand, and not purchasing goods that are less necessary. It will be good for the environment and generally good for your pocketbook as well!
  • Consider conducting a waste audit at your business facility to examine what comes in and what (and how it) leaves. Use the results of the audit to identify wasteful practices and develop a waste management strategy that incorporates waste reduction, reuse, and recycling measures.
  • Collect and store used motor oil or antifreeze in a sturdy plastic container and take it to a recycling center. Take used or damaged car batteries to auto stores that stock or repair lead-acid batteries for safe disposal.
  • Electronics are one of the fastest growing portions of America’s trash. Safe recycling of electronics supports responsible management of toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury. Before replacing old computers, consider donating them to a school in need. Consider buying used computers, or making simple upgrades to your own computer that can enhance the computer’s capacity. Buy rechargeable batteries. They can be used for longer periods and will likely be less expensive than disposable batteries in the long run.
  • To help reduce waste, use two-sided printing and copying, buy supplies made with recycled content, and recycle used printer cartridges. Take your used printer ink cartridge to a company that re-manufactures cartridges for reuse. Many companies that refurbish cartridges will offer store credit for your used cartridge.
  • For many years, many households and businesses have gotten into the habit of flushing waste pharmaceuticals down the toilet or pouring them down the drain because it has no cost and appears to be the simplest way to prevent unintended use or other diversion. However, wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are generally not designed to treat pharmaceutical waste.  Learn about the FDA’s guidelines on proper drug disposal or search out drug take-back programs in your community. To find a pharmacy that participates in the unused or expired medication disposal program, use this locator page.