Fairview Health Services has recently reaped some major savings — money, environment, and staff time — through two projects to reduce waste from office supplies and junk mail. The organization launched it efforts with the help of Wesli Waters, who served at Fairview as a GreenCorps member in 2012 and was subsequently hired by the company.
Fairview Health Services includes eight hospitals and more than 40 clinics, employing 22,000 people across Minnesota.
Reducing office supply waste
In 2011, Fairview noted an increase in its office supply costs and an excess inventory in its facilities. In an innovative effort to reduce expenses and waste, Fairview launched Reuse Stores in three hospitals and two office buildings. Staff collected unused supplies at each site and organized the supplies into central office supply “stores,” which are also stocked with commonly used items. Staff can now donate excess supplies back to a store, ensuring all supplies are consumed or reused before new ones are ordered.
Since the Reuse Store program started, Fairview has saved more than $1.1 million in office supply costs. The organization has since added office furniture to the reuse stores — and even reupholsters items to prolong their usable life — and has seen a furniture savings of $300,000. Fairview has prevented 32,000 pounds of waste by reusing both office supplies and furniture.
“If you think about how much waste we have in unneeded or unused supplies, as well as the packaging — it adds up,” says Waters, Fairview’s sustainability program coordinator. “Every item we reuse eliminates a purchase and helps us reach our goals.”
Saving staff time with less junk mail
According to the MPCA, nearly 6 million tons of waste is generated each year from junk mail.
Fairview found that in one hospital’s mailroom, 49 percent of its mail was considered “junk,” which meant wasted time for mailroom staff (for sorting and distribution), recipients (for reviewing and discarding mail) and maintenance staff (for collecting and hauling trash and recycling). It also meant slightly higher waste bills.
Fairview teamed up with Partnership Resources Inc. in Minneapolis, a company that employs adults with developmental disabilities. All junk mail is delivered to PRI where workers contact the senders to cancel future mailings. During a three-month period, PRI helped Fairview reduce incoming junk mail by almost 75 percent. Fairview estimates that only 13 percent of the mail now being received is junk.
For more information
If you are interested in knowing more about Fairview’s source reduction efforts or how to start your own reduction campaign, contact Colleen Hetzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-757-2433.