Atrium Health Commits to Eliminating 1.9 Million Single-use Plastics Across Health System

  

Plastic water bottles the first to be eliminated at care sites beginning in September

CHARLOTTE, N.C., August 12, 2020 – Atrium Health is continuing its commitment to greater sustainability, announcing today that it will begin eliminating single-use plastic from key areas inside its North Carolina facilities. Single-use plastic includes items like water bottles, soft drink bottles, straws and utensils. The first item to be eliminated will be single-use, plastic water bottles from its cafeterias, lounges and catering, with a full transition slated to begin in September. As part of Atrium Health’s commitment to a healthier community, it plans to replace single-use, plastic bottles with more eco-friendly options, such as biodegradable water bottles, touchless reusable water bottle refilling stations and hands-free water dispensers.

Single-use plastic creates a significant amount of waste product that is known to end up in our world’s oceans and
waterways. For decades, plastic production has outpaced any other bulk material, including steel, cement and aluminum. Marine animals are often found with plastic in their stomachs, and scientists estimate there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean, by weight, by 2050.

“Conservation is something that takes each organization and person committing to doing their part, every single day. Our initial efforts at Atrium Health will eliminate 1.9 million water bottles each year at our care sites, which over just five years translates to nearly 90 tons of plastic waste and over 260 metric tons of carbon impact removed from the environment.” said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “We know that sustainability efforts lead to a healthier life, and Atrium Health will continue to take steps like these to be a responsible steward of the world in which we live.”

According to the International Bottled Water Association, Americans spend $16 billion annually on bottled water,
consuming more than 14 billion gallons of bottled water each year. In North Carolina, consumers only recycle about onethird of the plastic bottles being purchased in the state, leaving a considerable amount of recyclable plastic bottles in landfills each year.

Recognizing the growing statistics surrounding the usage and recycling of water bottles, Atrium Health determined
eliminating plastic bottles at North Carolina locations will reduce Atrium Health’s carbon footprint in this category by at least 74 percent.

In 2019, a multidisciplinary Sustainability Advisory Council was started to further advocate and oversee broader
sustainability initiatives. Specific objectives through 2020 include tracking Atrium Health’s environmental performance across key areas, setting goals and policies to advance sustainability performance and examining the health outcome impacts.

Over the past several years, Atrium Health has been on a journey of greater sustainability, including;

• Awarded the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for three consecutive years from 2018 to 2020.
• Operating and maintaining ENERGY STAR certification at 13 Atrium Health facilities, including four of their largest
hospitals. This certification is awarded to those that perform better than at least 75 percent of similar buildings
nationwide.
• Investing more than $12.5 million in energy efficiency projects since 2014.
• Ongoing energy efficiency with a reduction of facility energy consumption by 27 percent since 2012 avoiding $5
million each year in energy expense.
• Named a TreeCampus Healthcare institution by the Arbor Day Foundation as part of the inaugural class of 16
TreeCampus Healthcare facilities.

As one of this region’s largest employers, this commitment not only supports Atrium Health teammates and patients but exemplifies Atrium Health’s commitment to investing in the planet and improving the community they serve.

Author: Margaret Beveridge