Beacon Converters has joined Practice Greenhealth and become a sponsor its Greening the OR® Initiative. Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading health care community, which empowers its members to increase their environmental stewardship and efficiencies while improving patient safety and care through tools, best practices and knowledge.

For 65 years Beacon Converters, a third-generation family business, has manufactured flexible packaging for the medical and pharmaceutical markets. Through the efforts of Practice Greenhealth and work done by the Flexible Packaging Association, Beacon has worked to understand more about the steps after their packaging product has met the performance objectives of the product it served and is at the end of its useful life. By working closely with a broader collective group of scientists, academics, hospitals and medical personnel on the front lines, Beacon Converters believes there is an opportunity to change behaviors and best practices towards zero-waste-to-landfill in health care.

Approximately 5.2 million tons of waste is generated by the health care industry each year. The OR can generate between 20 and 30 percent of the hospital’s total waste volume. Much of the nation’s operating room waste is disposed of as regulated medical waste, which costs between 10 and 15 times more in disposal fees than regular waste. In addition, most operating room supplies are thrown out after just one use or even after being opened but not used, even though re-use may be an option.

"As a packaging converter for FDA-regulated medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers we develop packaging systems that protect our customers’ products and support patient safety. However, these same valuable packaging components end up as waste," said Alison Tyler, Technical Director at Beacon Converters and Adjunct Professor at RIT School of Packaging. Continued Tyler, "Recognizing this complex issue, we as a company have made a commitment to ourselves, our industry and our community, to better understand the impact packaging waste has on the environment and take action to reduce it. As an industry we look for opportunities to reduce product footprint by minimizing packaging. Beacon is proud to be an active part of this movement."

The Greening the Operating Room Initiative is a collaborative effort to envision what the green operating room of the future might look like, and what kinds of products, programs and best management practices hospitals can focus on as a means of getting there. The Initiative includes data analysis, research evaluation and the compiling of best practices to create information on a range of successful interventions for greener, more efficient operating rooms. These interventions include the reduction and segregation of regulated medical waste, reusable canister fluid management systems, single-use device reprocessing and OR kit reformulation, reusable surgical gowns and basins and medical plastics recycling.

"We are glad to welcome Beacon Converters, Inc., a medical packaging manufacturer, to the growing number of member sponsors of Greening the OR®" said Laura Wenger, Executive Director of Practice Greenhealth. "Change will not be achieved in the health care industry without a broad coalition of manufacturers, suppliers and health care providers who are working together to create a greener future for our nation’s hospitals."