Santa Barbara is now home to the county’s first hospital to earn a “Platinum Level” distinction for its environmental sustainability practices. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital has been consistently praised over the years for its waste-reducing operations ― earning a Gold Level certificate in 2017 from the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) ― and achieved the higher award this January.
“Our Nutrition and Environmental Services team at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is committed to protecting the environment and the health of our community,” said Herb Geary, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Cottage Health. “They are the leaders in consistently setting the bar higher and higher at Cottage for sustainability practices.”
This title commends new practices implemented at the hospital, notably its waste diversion program. Over 40 percent of Cottage’s waste, roughly 60 tons each month, is recycled or composted, a 20 percent increase from 2012. In 2019 alone, three million gallons of water used for irrigation were recycled, two tons of scrap food were composted, and 2.5 tons of plastic were diverted from landfills.
The reduction of plastic was the most successful initiative in bringing Cottage up from Gold to Platinum. Single-use plastic designed to keep surgical instruments sterile, a k a “blue wrap,” accounted for roughly 20 percent of operating room waste, but the hospital recently switched to a vendor that makes recyclable blue wrap, which is more expensive but much greener.
In the near future, Cottage also plans to install electric car chargers for employees and work with other Central Coast hospitals to implement more sustainability practices.