Providence Health & Services is a not-for-profit Catholic healthcare network that operates over 50 hospitals and 1,000 clinics across seven states in the western U.S. (Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington). Providence Health & Services established the following environmental goals:
Achieve carbon negativity
Reduce waste by 50% by 2030
Adopted standards and policies to reduce environmental and financial impacts
Reduce supply-chain associated emissions and waste
OASE 2020 Project Update: Linen Use Reduction
Kylee Church updated the 2019 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to measure Providence Portland’s 2019 actual linen consumption reduction activities. She collected and analyzed LCA data and confirmed that significant reductions were achieved smoothly with policies and staff training to not stock excessive linen, ensure linens were used for the intended purposes, and more.
Achieved savings and reductions: Annual cost savings of reducing linen consumption by 5% resulting in $120,000 with zero annual implementation costs. There was also 47 MTCO2e, 75,000 gallons of water pollution, 15,000 kWh electricity, prevented 406,000 cf (cubic feet) of natural gas use and prevented using 170,000 gallons of water.
2021 Linen Use Reduction Project
In response to the success of not using as much linen in their Portland hospital and after forecasting consumption trends by updating the LCA data, Church recommended maintaining current linen policies and training. The hospital believes it will reduce linen consumption by 14% in 2021. Management is implementing the recommendations at the Portland hospital and plans to implement the project at many other Oregon facilities using the updated LCA results and projected savings.
Projected savings for 2021 from reducing linen use by 14 percent: 131,000 kgCO2 emissions and 210,000 gallons of wastewater discharge prevented, utility reductions are 476,000 gallons of municipal water use, 43,000 kWh of electricity, and 1.1 million cf of natural gas.
Linen Reuse Project
At the end of 2019, the Portland hospital sent approximately 30,000 pounds of unusable linen to the landfill. Kylee updated the LCA data and found that carbon emissions and energy use could be reduced by diverting these linens from the landfill as sellable rags. Kylee found and recommended a local business to recycle the unusable linens into consumer rags and the hospital is in the process of setting up the contract.
Providence implemented Church’s recommendation which is projected to cost $1,800 and save $1,500 annually. This effort is estimated to prevent 53,000 kgCO2e (53 MTCO2e) of emissions from the landfill and associated electricity expenditures of 38,500 kWh of electricity from manufacturing new linens
Chemical Assessment and Chemical Management Plan
Church completed a comprehensive chemical inventory, assessment, and Chemical Management Plan detailing how to prevent all laundry facilities from using detergents that have chemicals of concern (ex: nonylphenol polyethoxylate). The plan includes a centralized chemical reporting system, shows there are staff safety concerns (from using powdered chlorine), and recommends purchasing and contract activities for less-toxic detergent options. The plan was modeled after a chemical management plan implemented by Kaiser Permanente and through other resources from Health Care Without Harm, Practice Green Health, and Clean Production Action. When adopted at the system-level, it’s expected that the supply-chain will respond by eventually eliminating chemicals of concern through heightened supplier scrutiny. Once chemicals of concern are not used or purchased, PHS will be an eligible candidate for an EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year award.
Potential savings if implemented: A minimal annual cost to implement $1,400 (chemical costs) While cost savings are unknown, potentially 62,000 gallons of chemicals of concern will not be used or purchased if implemented.