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2/4/22

Humana Addresses waste through innovative solutions 

Humana recognizes there is an undeniable link between physical and emotional well-being and the health of the environment. To help advance holistic health for members and the communities the company serves, Humana has established next-generation goals to make the planet healthier.  One of these goals is to increase the company’s waste diversion rate to 60 percent by the end of 2022, and Humana knew that the only way to achieve and sustain this was to ensure employees were invested in achieving this goal.  Waste, whether accumulating in a landfill or burning in an incinerator, causes multiple negative impacts, including worsening climate change, harming wildlife and the natural environment, and creating toxins dangerous to human health.     

West Chester pharmacy location on path to zero-waste certification 

 

Recycling containers at the West Chester pharmacy distribution center 

The Humana pharmacy distribution center in West Chester, Ohio, took this goal a step further, setting their sights on becoming a zero-waste certified site. The improvements made at this location are already projected to save nearly 300 tons of materials from going into a landfill each year, thanks to recycling and reuse programs.  The location is now recycling 24.5 tons of pill bottles, bottle lids, paper and plastic wrap every month.  In addition to reducing waste, the program is also on track to reduce spending on waste disposal and through rebates on cardboard by $100,000 dollars per year.  The reduction in waste has been so great that the West Chester site was able to remove two of its three waste compactors thanks to recycling.  

Getting to this point took some significant work from Pharmacy Operations teams and a strong partnership with Workplace Solutions (Humana’s facilities management team) and two vendor partners. West Chester's success has now provided a blueprint for other Humana pharmacy locations throughout the country.    

 

Recyclables loaded into a baler at the West Chester pharmacy distribution center 

Employees engaged in this process by providing feedback along the way to help streamline and update the processes, allowing operations teams to separate out the recyclable materials without any major impacts to normal workflows.  "With all the challenges of the pandemic, I think this is a major win for Humana and Humana Pharmacy," saidJared Timmons, Director of Mail Order and Over the Counter Pharmacy Distribution in West Chester. "I'm proud of my team for not losing sight of this goal with everything else going on."   

To become aTRUE certified zero waste site , which would be a first for Humana, West Chester will need to divert at least 90 percent of its waste. That can be done through recycling, reusing, composting or recovering materials for "productive use in nature or the economy." The site consistently hits 85 percent waste diversion and is on track to be certified with 90.1 percent waste diversion by the end of 2022. West Chester’s managing pharmacist Todd Biedenharn, R.Ph said, “While the obvious positive outcome to this project is our facility gaining the True Waste certification, we have also seen great collaboration and communication in the teams involved during this process. From decisions being made by the group to the communications down to the floor employees. The great collaboration between teams near and far to this facility have enabled us to reduce our environmental impact by diverting metric ton upon metric ton of waste from landfills and into recycling streams. Very proud of the hard work and boots on the ground work done by all here.”  

  Baled pill bottles ready to be recycled 

Humana’s IT team keeps electronic waste out of landfills  

Humana’s IT department is also hard at work finding ways to help achieve Next Generation goals by keeping electronic waste out of landfills. According to the EPA, electronic waste is a term used to describe used electronics that are nearing the end of their useful life, and are discarded, donated or given to a recycler.  Improperly disposed electronic waste has the potential to negatively impact public health and the environment.  The EPA estimates that in 2009, US consumers and businesses discarded televisions, computers, cell phones and hard copy peripherals (including printers, scanners, faxes) totaling 2.37 million tons. Approximately 25 percent of these electronics were collected for recycling, with the remainder disposed of primarily in landfills, where the precious metals cannot be recovered.    

In 2021, a partnership with Cascade Asset Management allowed Humana to recycle and reuse old electronic equipment as it was retired.  This resulted in significant emissions savings and kept 233,491 pounds of solid waste and 63,140 pounds of hazardous waste out of landfills.  

 

 

 

 

 

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