MORRISTOWN, NJ - Atlantic Health System has received the New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award and was named among the organizations and individuals that have moved the state forward on significant issues, including climate change, recycling, clean drinking water, and environmental justice.

In his opening remarks at the virtual awards ceremony, DEP Deputy Commissioner Shawn LaTourette noted that the 2020 “honorees exemplify the values that motivate us here at the Department of Environmental Protection and across the Murphy Administration: an abiding commitment to science and service, and a drive to confront our greatest challenges, and out of them create new opportunities that will help us build a stronger, fairer New Jersey.”

Atlantic Health System was recognized in the Healthy & Sustainable Businesses category, with the Murphy administration highlighting Atlantic Health System’s achievements in reducing the carbon footprints of its medical centers, implementing aggressive changes in high-waste areas such as ORs and finding new ways to reduce waste and reuse common medical materials.

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Examples of Atlantic Health System’s achievements include:

  • Overlook Medical Center’s tri-generation power plant has had the most significant impact on reducing the organization’s carbon footprint. It can generate electricity on site by harnessing the waste heat produced by the generators and substitutes steam formerly created by boilers.
  • Atlantic Health System’s medical centers have exceeded national benchmarks for recycle rates, recycling between 19-26 percent or more of their total waste produced.
  • Plastic straws have been replaced with biodegradable paper straws throughout all hospital retail sites.
  • In early 2020, Atlantic Health System partnered with Green Vision, Inc., based in Randolph, a local environmentally friendly recycling company. The company picks up the health system’s electronic waste, or “e-waste,” such as used computer monitors, televisions, various pieces of medical equipment and other devices, and employs young adolescent students and adults with autism and teaches them how to properly dismantle and recycle e-waste. Green Vision operates 99% landfill-free, with all recycled materials going to federally licensed facilities. Atlantic Health last year recycled more than 7,000 lbs. of e-waste.
  • Starting in 2019, Overlook has been repurposing surgical blue wrap – the material used to cover sterile surgical instruments and materials – into reusable tote bags, as well as ponchos and sleeping bags, some of which have been donated to Summit’s homeless. The wrap is made of polypropylene, which is lightweight and durable – and also incredibly non-biodegradable, and a large source of hospital waste. Overlook Medical Center uses – and discards – about 15,000 lbs. of blue wrap each year, much of which can now be repurposed.

These and other accomplishments have also been recognized by other organizations in recent years, including Practice Greenhealth, HealthTrust and Union County.

“We are truly honored to be recognized among the leaders in our communities who are working to make our state environmentally sustainable,” said Nikki Sumpter, Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer for Atlantic Health System. “Implementing sustainable strategies in the delivery of care not only has a positive impact on the environment, but also compliments our commitment to quality and diversity. The effect this has on the communities we serve is multi-fold."

The 2020 awards were presented virtually and video is available on the DEP’s website and Facebook page.

To view Atlantic Health's acceptance of the award, visit https://vimeo.com/488693580/e99f326101.