Kaiser Permanente Hawaii announced Wednesday that all of its locations statewide have enacted a plastic bag ban.
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii is the first region in the Kaiser Permanente family and the first healthcare system in Hawaii to voluntarily ban the dispensing of plastic bags to its patients statewide. Environmentally friendly reusable and biodegradable paper bags will be available upon request.
“We are proud to do our part to help reduce plastic waste and the damaging effects it has on our environment,” said Mike Hasselle, Supply Chain Director, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii Region. “It is past time that communities as a whole, move away from plastic bag usage and toward a more sustainable and healthy practice. Although the government ban on dispensing plastic bags on Oahu doesn’t take effect until July 1, 2015, we hope that our initiative inspires other organizations to follow suit and take action earlier.”
Approximately 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States each year -- more than 1,200 bags per U.S. resident, per year.
An estimated 12 million barrels of oil are required to make this amount of plastic bags. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of the ocean.
Other efforts in support of healthy environments and communities initiated by Kaiser Permanente include designing its new wing at its Moanalua Medical Center using green technology, reducing environmental impact through recycling and sustainable architecture and landscaping. Many of the features also put into place helped to lower energy consumption and costs. Designers also utilized low volatile organic compounds paint, which is better for the environment and air quality.
Last year, Kaiser Permanente’s Hilo, Honolulu and Mapunapuna clinic buildings earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification for superior energy efficiency. Commercial buildings that earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Kaiser Permanente improved its energy performance by making cost-effective improvements to its buildings, focusing on continuously improving energy utilization and looking for green alternatives.