Environmental Sustainability

Our commitment to sustainability


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Practice Greenhealth’s Partner for Change Award

New Ulm Medical Center earned a Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Award in 2023. The award recognizes superior performance in a range of different sustainability programs and activities including energy, waste, procurement, and greening the operating room. New Ulm was recognized for operating at the 90th percentile of all other applicants for recycling as a percentage of total waste.

New Ulm Medical Center staffers cleaning up trash
Right: New Ulm Green Team staff took part in an outdoor clean-up on Earth Day, 2023. 

Lisa Shannon at an event in New Ulm

Left: Lisa Shannon at New Ulm’s Wellness Fair (2023) talking with Sustainability Team.

Waste reduction 

Pharmacy & Radiology

Staff in New Ulm Medical Center’s Pharmacy and Radiology Departments collaborated to solve a problem arising around the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. There was a shortage in the supply of contrast dye used for CT scans. Pharmacists and radiologists needed to identify a solution for reducing contrast waste to conserve their supply. What they discovered was that a lot of patients don’t require the contrast vial’s entire contents, and whatever wasn’t used, was being thrown in the black bins as hazardous pharmaceutical waste. The Radiology Team, led by Brian Dracy, RT, then collaborated with the pharmacy to develop a process where only needed amounts of contrast were being filled for each patient, resulting in significantly reducing contrast waste. To further reduce this waste problem, the pharmacy began ordering 75mL vials rather than 100 or 150mL so the available contrast per patient didn’t significantly exceed the typical amount needed. This additionally helped New Ulm reduce costs associated with the cost of contrast, but also the costs associated with waste disposal of contrast given it is an infectious waste (black bins) and is quite costly by weight when compared to general solid waste. 

Waste Reduction Grant

New Ulm staff took advantage of a free waste assessment from Minnesota Waste Wise and developed a phased plan to replace their bins with paired recycling and trash bins. New Ulm then received a $2,000 grant to offset the cost of the new bins. 

Blue wrap recycling

New Ulm Medical Center recycles blue wrap, material used to keep surgical supplies sterile. The blue wrap is eventually pelletized and used as a feedstock for making new products. Blue wrap is one of the cleanest materials that leaves hospitals, which makes it a good recycling feedstock.  Merrick, Inc. takes the blue wrap and provides meaningful employment to people with disabilities. 
As of January (2023), New Ulm staff had recycled 1,400 pounds of blue wrap.

New Ulm staffers recycling waste material 

Left: Environmental Services Staff at New Ulm Medical Center collecting blue wrap waste (2023).

Donations to Matter

Surplus medical equipment and supplies are donated to Matter. Matter sends the material to hospitals and clinics in places like Senegal, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Kenya. 

Reusable sharps containers

Reusable sharps containers were implemented throughout the Allina Health system in 2014-2015.

Styrofoam elimination

In 2019, Styrofoam cups and containers were replaced with paper products. 

Recycled paper

In 2021, Allina Health switched all paper purchasing to at least 30% post-consumer recycled content. This switch will save hundreds of pounds of wood, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, 93 tons of CO2e greenhouse gases and particulates from polluting the air.