First in the Nation to Switch to Dye-Free Plastics

New products minimize release of hazardous chemicals into soil and groundwater

San Francisco, Calif. - April 4, 2012 - Dignity Health announced today it will be the first health care system in the nation to begin using pigment-free patient plastics in all of its hospitals and other care centers to reduce its impact on the environment. The conversion to dye free plastics, manufactured by Medline Industries, Inc., will be completed in all Dignity Health facilities by the end of May 2012.

"We are proud that Dignity Health is the first health system that is changing its plastics to dye-free products for our patients across our network. It helps protect and improve the environment and, ultimately, public health," said Sr. Mary Ellen Leciejewski, Dignity Health Ecology Program Coordinator. "Our support for environmentally responsible products underscores Dignity Health's long-standing commitment to sustainability."

Under the new initiative, Dignity Health will replace everyday products that are used at the patient's bedside, such as bed pans, wash basins, water pitchers and drinking cups, with pigment-free products. Pigment-free products support greener manufacturing because they eliminate the need for potentially harmful chemicals during the manufacturing process. Based on its annual usage of these products, Dignity Health will divert an estimated 2,935 lbs (1.33 tons) of pigment from leaching into the soil and groundwater by switching to pigment-free plastics. The total value of the contract is $1 million per year.

"We're excited to partner with Dignity Health to help reduce our impact on the environment," said Francesca Olivier, Medline's director of sustainability. "At Medline, we feel that preserving a healthy planet for future generations is not only the right thing to do, but it is our responsibility as leaders in the healthcare industry to do our part. We provide sustainable products and services so that our customers can do what's right for their patients, their facility and our environment."

Dignity Health has already taken a number of steps to reduce its environmental footprint and improve patient safety:

  • Since 2005, Dignity Health provides system wide usage of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)/ di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)-free intravenous (IV) bags, solutions, and tubing which prevents DEHP from leaching into the infusion solution of blood contained in IV bags.
  • Since 2009, Dignity Health has been pressing food suppliers to provide meat and dairy products that are not from animal cloning, and foods that are made without genetically engineered sugar beets.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, Dignity Health decreased water consumption by 9.8%.
  • In 2011, Dignity Health diverted 198,000 lbs of medical equipment from landfills and saved $5.6 million by increasing use of reusable products.
  • In 2011, through the use of reusable sharps containers, Dignity Health eliminated 1,344,227 tons of red plastic and 73,098 tons of corrugated packaging containers waste, and prevented carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 31,255 gallons of gasoline
  • Dignity Health is a co-founder of Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a national campaign which launched on April 3, 2012, to implement a completely new approach to improving environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector.