About MnTAP’s Work in the Healthcare Industry
MnTAP’s History in the Healthcare Industry
MnTAP began pollution prevention assistance activities with hospitals in the late 1990s. Much of this work focused on reducing the use of mercury. From 2000 to 2010, MnTAP and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) led the Healthcare Environmental Awareness and Resource Reduction Team (HEARRT). This group met quarterly to discuss environmental topics pertaining to the healthcare industry. HEARRT began meeting again in 2014. Read more about HEARRT below.
In 2005, MnTAP helped MPCA develop an all-department compliance and pollution prevention checklist for Minnesota hospitals. MPCA deployed the checklist both as a self-assessment tool for hospitals to complete on their own and as a follow-up inspection checklist for MPCA staff to use at hospitals during a compliance initiative from 2006 to 2008. Many hospitals consulted with MnTAP on pollution prevention opportunities upon completion of their checklist. The initiative resulted in significant reduction of many types of solid and hazardous wastes and waste water discharges.
In 2009, MPCA partnered with MnTAP to provide assistance to non-hospital healthcare facilities, including dental clinics, long-term care facilities, medical clinics, pharmacies, and veterinarians. This work, completed in 2009 and 2010 under a U.S. EPA P2 grant, focused on helping these facilities comply with hazardous waste regulations and reduce hazardous waste generation.
In recent years, MnTAP has completed two life cycle analyses (LCAs) on materials used in healthcare facilities. The first study, Reducing Blue Wrap Waste with Sterilization Containers (2010), showed that healthcare facilities can dramatically reduce the quantity of and costs associated with blue wrap by using sterilization containers. The second study showed that reusable patient gowns are environmentally preferable to disposable gowns.
MnTAP has also placed a number of interns at healthcare facilities to work on pollution prevention and energy efficiency projects. For example, in 2015, an intern at HealthPartners Park Nicollet Health Services researched opportunities to reduce clinic waste and recycle more. Read more about past intern projects here.
MnTAP is a member of Practice Greenhealth, a national non-profit that empowers its healthcare industry members to increase their efficiencies and environmental stewardship while improving patient safety and care through tools, best practices, and knowledge.
Healthcare Environmental Awareness and Resource Reduction Team (HEARRT) connects healthcare professionals to encourage and support sustainability actions that improve environmental and community health and reduce costs.
HEARRT was originally convened by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and MnTAP. Healthcare facilities, county hazardous waste staff, state agencies, trade associations, and vendors from throughout Minnesota met quarterly from 2000 to 2010 to discuss environmentally-related topics. HEARRT was resuscitated in 2014 to deliver education, networking opportunities, and support to facilities working to achieve the three facets of sustainability: vibrant communities, strong profitability, and a healthy environment. Visit the HEARRT website and HEARRT LinkedIn page for more information.