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St. Luke's Minimizing Carbon Footprint

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St. Luke's helped keep more than 25,000 pounds of plastic waste out of landfill in 2012 by reusing its sharps containers.

Across the clinics and main hospital in the St. Luke's system, 25,288 pounds of plastic and 1,834 pounds of cardboard were diverted from landfill last year, simply by utilizing reusable sharps containers to dispose of needles.

That equates to 14,969 pounds of carbon dioxide, or equivalent to the emissions released by approximately 770 gallons of gasoline, or 280 home barbecue propane cylinders, according to Stericycle, St. Luke's sharps management service.

"It's great – that's why we are doing it," said Mark Branovan, St. Luke's director of hospitality services. "We think about our impact on our local and regional environment, and that was a motivation."

Previously, sharps containers were destroyed and disposed of after one use as single-use medical devices. In 2004, St. Luke's Hospital replaced these with reusable containers, which are emptied once full and sterilized before being returned for re-use. St. Luke's clinics followed suit in 2009.

St. Luke's participates in a number of other initiatives as part of its awareness of the community, including participation since 2012 in the Superior Compact (commitment to buy 20 percent of food locally by 2020); collaboration in a food rescue program since 2003 with Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank; and the introduction of food waste composting prior to city ordinance.

St. Luke's was a joint winner of the Governor's Award in 2007, in partnership with the Institute for a Sustainable Future, for excellence in waste and pollution prevention.