Less Waste

Less Waste

Solid Waste, Recycling



Stony Brook Medicine is committed to supporting sustainability efforts and reducing our carbon footprint, one initiative is the reduction of the amount of paper used and the recycling of the paper we do use.  We can all do our part to reduce waste and save resources in our daily work areas.  Our sustainability programs not only benefit our planet, but also our employees and communities.



  • The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
  • Stony Brook Medicines total purchase for copy paper was $283,897.00 from October 2017 through September 2018

The Healthcare Sustainability Committees is asking for your help.  Our goal is to focus on house-wide paper reduction and to reduce paper use by 10% this year. 
1.    Follow the golden rule: think before you print..... 

  • Post reminders about efficient paper use near the copy machine and/or each workstation.
  • Use both sides of the sheet of paper. 
  • Printing on both sides of the paper can reduce paper usage by up to 50%.
  • Use the following features to reduce the amount of paper used for a document.
  • Use the "Fit to Page" feature in Microsoft Excel. This feature automatically re-scales output to print evenly on one or several pages.
  • Use the "Print Preview" feature to make sure the document prints on just one page.
  • Change the paper orientation (portrait vs. landscape) for large spreadsheets to get more columns on a page.
  • In PowerPoint, print "Handouts" not "Slides".
  • In MS Word, go to "File", then to "Page Setup". Then choose "Reduce the Margins" and set your margins to smaller numbers.
  • Compared to the normal settings, you could use up to 14% less paper!
  •  When you are printing, reduce font size to decrease the amount of paper required.
  • Use efficient fonts like Times New Roman or Arial. These fonts use significantly less space.
  • Avoid printing out single line e-mails or unnecessary copies of documents.
  • Conduct paper-less meetings.
  • Encourage staff to use their computers for reviewing documents and note-taking.
  • Do not print meeting agendas and minutes for everyone attending the meeting, send it electronically.
  • Use technology, Electronic mail, Intranets, Internet and document scanners can radically reduce paper use, while also saving time and money.
  • Estimates show that 10-30% reduction in paper usage is possible with appropriate use of available technology.
  • Recycle the paper you have and ask for recycled paper products.

Recycle all paper in the large HIPPA collection boxes located on your unit.  All paper is handled the same way, collected, shredded and recycled.


Stony Brook Hospital has been recognized in the following category:

We received a 2010 Sterilmed Best Practice for Environmental Excellence Award.


Martha Houlihan, Karen Villanueva-Walsh, Paul Ryan and Cliff Roggemann


EC0069 Hospital Recycling and Sustainability

EC0040 Reusable Hospital Surplus Property

Hazardous Waste


Hospitals typically generate large quantities of hazardous chemical waste.  Hazardous waste is defined and regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and also (in New York State) by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.  Much of the non-pharmaceutical chemical waste generated is solvent waste (such as alcohol and xylene) from laboratories. To protect patients, visitors and staff, and to preserve the natural environment, healthcare facilities strive to minimize the quantity of hazardous chemicals they purchase, use and discard. Hospitals also are investigating non-hazardous alternatives for materials classified as hazardous.


  • Research recycling of paraffin wax in Histology laboratory
  • Eliminated the use of osmium tetroxide, glutaraldehyde and epoxy resin in the Electron Microscopy laboratory


Before Stony Brook Medicine initiates new clinical procedures or instrumentation, first we consider hazardous waste that might be generated. As part of that effort, the Department of Laboratories uses a checklist when requesting capital equipment. The checklist includes “Issues to be Considered Prior to Implementation”, and a hazard analysis is undertaken to determine safety precautions (electrical safety, proper disposal of chemical and dry/liquid hazardous waste, and chemical hazards.) For example, in the Core and Histology Labs, laboratory equipment that generated hazardous waste was replaced with newer instrumentation that no longer generated hazardous waste. Also, as an alternative to incineration, our laboratory xylene and alcohol waste was used for energy recovery – specifically, fuel blending, which means it is used as a fuel for industrial processes.

Chemical waste streams are periodically re-evaluated by Environmental Health and Safety and the hospital’s hazardous waste vendor. For example, an RCRA hazardous waste stream was pH tested and, based on the findings, treatment prior to incineration was no longer necessary yielding a savings to the hospital. This reduced the annual cost for disposal by $5500.

The Plant Operation department uses low volatile organic compound (VOC) latex paint in the hospital. The Cabinet Shop uses low VOC adhesives and sustainable plywood and medium density fiberboard, when constructing furniture.

The last remaining wet x-ray processor, in which silver was collected via filtration, was decommissioned in 2017. The hospital is now fully digital.

We use the software program SDSPro to inventory the approximately 3,000 chemical products used in the hospital. Safety Data Sheets provide product safety information, including personal protective equipment to wear when using the product, what to do in case of a spill or exposure, and how to safely dispose of the product. Because Safety Data Sheets are periodically updated, we strive to keep this information current. We do this not only for safety, but also to handle waste more efficiently. For example, it’s less costly to dispose of non-hazardous waste, so we need access to the most up-to-date information.


We are virtually a mercury-free hospital. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and developmental toxin. Even at low levels it can impact human health. Healthcare facilities are often a major contributor to emissions of mercury that end up in the air we all breathe. By eliminating mercury, we’ve taken an important step to protect vulnerable populations, like pregnant women and young children, from the damaging effects of mercury pollution. The hospital received the Making Medicine Mercury Free Award, a prestigious national honor from Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E.) H2E is a nonprofit group that works to improve healthcare’s environmental performance. Hospitals that receive this award meet stringent benchmarks for mercury elimination.

The hospital received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award. EPA honors individuals and organizations who have contributed significantly to improving the environment. To be selected, nominees must have contributed to improving environmental quality, demonstrated a high achievement in the award category, created unique or location-specific benefits, produced results that are sustainable or reproducible, or increased public involvement in environmental action. To receive this award, we highlighted our efforts in mercury reduction, recycling and environmental awareness.


Kathy Terwilliger, Martin Kroll, Michele Gilleeny-Blabac



EC0045 Hazardous Chemical Waste Management

EC0054 Hazardous Chemical Material Spills Plan

Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceutical Waste Management


There is widespread concern over pharmaceuticals that have gotten into the environment, particularly drinking water. Environmentally sensitive handling of a hospital’s pharmaceutical waste is shaped by many factors: safety for patients and staff; federal, state and local regulations; whether the waste is classified as RCRA hazardous (drugs are classified RCRA depending on four factors: how corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive they are); and whether the waste is DEA-controlled substances.


  • Use metrics to study the impact of the new medication distribution processes in the Hospital Pavilion with regard to waste generation and, if successful, mirror in hospital towers
  • Partner with Recycling to recycle plastic bags, bottles, non-corrugated cardboard and paper drug inserts generated in the Pharmacy 
  • Comply with updated EPA pharmaceutical waste disposal guidelines, when implemented 


In cooperation with our local Setauket Fire Department, we coordinated a successful Return Unwanted Medicines event at the firehouse – the first official pharmaceutical waste event in Suffolk County. Five hundred pounds of unwanted medicines were dropped off by more than 140 community members. For this effort, we received a proclamation from the Suffolk County Legislature. The event was so successful that it is now conducted twice yearly – in the same location – by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

Under the direction of the Departments of Pharmacy and Healthcare Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S), we implemented a pharmaceutical waste management policy. A review of the hospital’s formulary identified which pharmaceuticals were RCRA (drugs are classified RCRA depending on four factors: how corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive they are.) This review now is conducted annually.

We collect waste streams that are disposed of by incineration. This includes RCRA meds and non-RCRA meds. (Although non-RCRA pharmaceutical waste doesn’t meet the definition of hazardous waste, we still consider it to be dangerous to human health and the environment.  We have increased our collection of non-RCRA waste. The hospital also manages this waste stream as “incinerate only”, to protect the environment.)  Our total pharmaceutical waste collection has increased by 43 percent during the past three years.   

The hospital has changed its disposal of DEA-controlled substances from sink drain disposal to collection containers that render the drugs irretrievable.  This waste stream is now destroyed by incineration.

In October 2017, the pharmacy initiated a program to reduce unnecessary insulin waste throughout the hospital.  The program began with the long-acting insulin, insulin glargine (brand name Lantus).  Instead of dispensing one vial per patient, the pharmacy is utilizing the hospital's automated dispensing machines (Pyxis), coupled with custom bar-coded labels, to allow nurses to withdraw single doses of insulin for patients and label the individual insulin syringe right at the Pyxis.  This allows bedside barcode scanning for insulin and also minimizes waste (due to more efficient use of each vial of insulin.)  After four months, the project had reduced insulin purchases by 77 percent with an estimated annual savings of nearly $300,000.


Overall, all of our sustainability initiatives have been consistently recognized by Practice Greenhealth recognition awards and the NYSDEC Environmental Excellence Award received in 2018.  The insulin reduction initiative was identified as a Best Practice by Practice Greenhealth and is expected to be featured on their website during the Spring of 2019.


Jeannene Strianse, Martin Kroll, Cliff Roggemann, Kathy Terwilliger, John Bruno and Frank Albergo



MM0008 Controlled Substances

MM0084 Pharmaceutical Waste Management