Small Business Drives Sustainability in the Biomedical Industry

by Marcos Cordero on December 8, 2011
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Hospitals and laboratories produce millions of tons of waste every year. Disposing of this waste — from biohazardous material to pharmaceuticals — is a complex process that requires careful treatment at significant cost to businesses. The expense and environmental impact of solid-waste disposal makes waste-reduction strategies an extremely important part of sustainability initiatives for the biomedical industry.

Although products and resources for water- and energy-conservation projects are increasingly available, waste reduction has proved more difficult for specialized businesses like biomedical facilities. The lack of sustainable product sourcing and industry-specific waste-management approaches have posed substantial barriers to businesses looking to go green and save money through more efficient operations.

The Mt. Baker Bio Team

Biomedical manufacturing and supply company Mt. Baker Bio is perfectly positioned to remove these barriers for clients. Working with the Green Business Bureau, the Everett, Wash.-based company has greened its own operations while driving environmental change throughout the industry. It is one of the only U.S. biomedical manufacturers that addresses waste-reduction issues directly through its product and service offerings.

With a core goal of making laboratory products more sustainable, Mt. Baker Bio produces single-use materials made from eco-friendly plastic alternatives. These materials are designed to maintain the same level of performance as existing products on the market and biodegrade completely within a decade. As Mt. Baker Bio tells the Green Business Bureau, “We cannot resolve the [waste] issue if alternatives do not exist.”

Beyond providing alternative materials, Mt. Baker Bio also recognizes the need to educate clients about waste-reduction options and to create a new environmental consciousness that will fuel the market for sustainable biomedical supplies. “Plastic waste has taken a backseat to other environmental concerns such as water, chemicals, and electricity. One of the easiest things that we can do is identify what can be recycled and reused,” the company says. Working with laboratories to develop lab-specific reuse and recycling plans helps to reduce their costs and ecological footprints.

Mt. Baker Bio also works to assure accountability in any sustainability effort. This includes engaging in in-house initiatives (the company has achieved platinum certification from the Green Business Bureau) and working with clients to measure the success of their waste-reduction projects and to quantify their savings. Gathering this data has helped the manufacturer remain innovative by identifying areas in need of new solutions.

By providing sustainable product alternatives, by educating clients on best practices for waste management, and by encouraging continued innovation through accountability, Mt. Baker Bio is playing a key role in revolutionizing the biomedical field, demonstrating the power of small businesses in greening their industries.

How can your business drive sustainable innovation in your field? What product sourcing or informational barriers has your business faced in going green? Share your experiences and ideas in the Comments field below.

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