Sanford Vermillion recycles tons

Sanford Vermillion introduced a facility-wide commercial recycling program to its staff in the summer of 2010. Now, over a year later, the medical center has diverted over 35,000 pounds of waste from the Clay County landfill.

In cooperation with the city of Vermillion Recycling Department, Sanford Vermillion introduced the new program to medical center staff with several goals in mind; first, and foremost, to become a more eco-friendly corporate citizen. Sanford Vermillion hoped to make a direct impact on the area environment through a significant reduction in waste tonnage deposited at the local landfill. Another goal was to reduce the use of Styrofoam and other similar items used within the facility that typically have a longer "shelf life" in the landfill.

Some first steps of planning for the eco-friendly program included analysis of several typical waste deposits at the city landfill. While medical center staff knew that recycling efforts of any degree would make a difference in landfill expenses, they were very surprised to learn that up to 50 percent of the analyzed loads were deemed potential recyclable materials. Cardboard was identified as the largest quantity of recyclable material from Sanford Vermillion waste.

The city of Vermillion made recommendations related to equipment needs, educational materials and internal supplies to initiate a facility wide recycling program at Sanford Medical Center Vermillion. Between equipment needs and the cafeteria conversion from Styrofoam to dinnerware, it became clear that the potential upfront costs for the new program could run as high as $30,000.

Thanks to financial support from Dakota Hospital Foundation, two of the larger cost items; an Alley-Cat Recycling trailer and a cardboard/tin baler were purchased. With needed equipment in place, Sanford Vermillion was able to announce the kick off of the new Eco-Friendly Program.

"Dakota Hospital Foundation recognized the impact this program would have, not only for the medical center, but for the community and the environment. The board was very pleased to assist in providing the equipment needed to execute a successful eco-friendly venture for Sanford Vermillion," said Jerry Johnson, past president, Dakota Hospital Foundation Board of Directors.

Education sessions for all employees were held and recycling was phased in throughout the facility over six-weeks in the summer of 2010. Employees have embraced the program over the past year and continue to seek ways to decrease waste.

"We have been very pleased with the success of the Eco-Friendly program at Sanford Vermillion. Recycling does require extra effort and we appreciate the enthusiastic participation on the part of our employees," said Valerie Osterberg, CFO at Sanford Vermillion.

"Sanford Vermillion's recycling program is a great example of how a commercial business can improve our environment. By sending their recyclables to the recycling center, Sanford Vermillion has less material going into the landfill. This saves space for the landfill and saves money for Sanford Vermillion," said Bob Iverson, solid waste director Vermillion.

The city of Vermillion provides a monthly report of recycle collection amounts. The peak month since the start of the eco-friendly program was November 2010. In that 30 day period 1,720 pounds of plastic/tin/paper and aluminum and over 2,200 pounds of cardboard were recycled. Total waste diverted from the Vermillion landfill since June 2010 is well over 17 tons.

To learn more about Sanford Vermillion, visit www.sanfordvermillion.org.

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