Monthly Archives: February 2014

Sustainability Efforts Can Boost the Bottom Line


“Sustainability” can mean different things to different people. In healthcare, sustainability is a means to practice the Hippocratic Oath—to heal and do no harm—through safer products, reduced air emissions, elimination of toxins, safer working environments, less waste and efficient use of energy and water.

But sustainability isn’t just about environmental stewardship. As the sector faces increased financial pressures, more hospitals and healthcare facilities should prioritize sustainability as a way to strategically manage rising costs.

Sustainability must be a core business value across the industry, with real impacts on the bottom line. What are some guiding principles?

It’s guided by strategy. It’s not enough to put recycling containers in your facility and consider your work done. Successful sustainability programs are guided by facility-wide strategies. Healthcare organizations must create a deliberate approach aimed at building internal support at all levels and producing external results, including financial savings.

It doesn’t have to cost more. Facilities should look first at strategies that require little capital investment and save money from day one. Waste prevention is a good place to start—facilities generate tremendous waste and pay higher disposal costs than most industries. Simple changes can lead to dramatic reductions.

It’s measurable. Hospitals engaged in sustainability recognize the old adage is true—you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Steps taken must be tied to goals and metrics so progress can be measured year-to-year. The results can be the driving focus for executive support and more board involvement.

It doesn’t have to be hard. Sustainability is a learning process. Hospitals and technology leaders —including BioHitech America—are pooling their wisdom and best practices to make significant changes in healthcare settings. Leaders should look to their peers for help incorporating sustainability into day-to-day operations. The success of others can help advance sustainable healthcare that’s good for the environment, good for patients and staff, and good for the bottom line.

The Eco-Safe Digester delivers on every point.  It doesn’t cost more than what a hospital is  already paying for food waste disposal, it measures diversion with the assistance of the BioHitech Butt, and is easy to operate while fitting seamlessly into day-to-day operations.   It is currently a component of many hospital strategies today.    A sustainable journey involves a long-term view, bottom-line focus, innovative thinking and ongoing collaboration.  BioHitech America is the best partner to take on that journey.

Massachusetts Bans Food Waste


Massachusetts has banned commercial operations from sending food waste to landfills as part of its climate action plan.

As of October 1, 2014, (only 3 months later than originally hoped) any entity that generates at least one ton of organic material per week has to either donate or re-purpose useable food and send the rest to a biogas facility, where it will be converted to clean energy or composted.

The ban will help the state meet its twin goals of reducing waste disposal to landfills and increasing clean energy production.

It affects about 1700 businesses and institutions, including supermarkets, colleges, universities, hotels, convention centers, hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and food service and processing companies.

Another boon from the ban is the growth of biogas plants across the state, needed to manage all the incoming organic material. MassDEP is working to site them on farms, wastewater treatment plants and other public and private locations by providing technical assistance and up to $1 million in grants. Currently 6 of Massachusetts’ wastewater treatment plants have anaerobic digesters capable of transforming effluent from on-site food waste digesters to clean energy or compost.  The use of municipal sewer systems to transport digested food waste offers the added benefit of taking excess trucks off the roads which helps to reduce pollution and save additional costs.

We hope MassDEP can convert more wastewater treatment facilities to anaerobic digesters before October 1st.

WeCare Organics Delivering Everything BUT Green


Beginning in the summer of 2010, tons of organic waste, set aside by residents of suburban Toronto, were hauled away by an upstate New York company that promised to turn the waste into rich, valuable compost to enrich soil and fertilize plants. Instead, a new lawsuit alleges, the organic waste was unceremoniously buried at Seneca Meadows Landfill in Seneca County.

Now the Regional Municipality of York wants $6 million in compensation for the diversion, which their lawsuit flatly labels “fraud.”

At issue is an ambitious organics recycling program by York Region, a community of 1.1 million people north of the city of Toronto. Residents there were given toters into which were to place food waste, paper and certain other materials that will break down during composting. The municipality hired several companies, including WeCare Organics of upstate New York, to take away this waste and compost it.

WeCare Organics was to be paid $158 a ton to compost up to 30,000 tons a year at its facility in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester on Dec. 27, York Region officials received an “anonymous tip” in January 2012 that WeCare wasn’t hauling that organic waste all the way to Marlborough for transformation into environmentally friendly compost.

Officials determined a month later that virtually all of the organic waste hauled away by WeCare had instead wound up at Seneca Meadows, New York’s largest landfill, the lawsuit alleges. This was news to York, and by the spring of 2012, the contract between the municipality and WeCare had been terminated.

That leaves the small matter of $6 million, which is the amount that WeCare allegedly billed the municipality between July 2010 and April 2012.

In its suit, York claims WeCare officials lied when they promised to compost the material and defrauded the municipality by submitting invoices claiming they were doing so.

The legal papers note that composting organics is more expensive than simply burying them, but that the municipality’s citizens were willing to pay a premium to see the waste turned into a useful commodity.

WeCare hasn’t responded to the lawsuit in court yet. WeCare also faces legal problems at the other end of the process – in Massachusetts, where the city of Marlborough filed its own federal lawsuit in November claiming the composting plant where York’s organics were supposed to be taken is violating environmental laws and unleashing a foul odor on neighbors.

Does anyone really know where their organics go?