Medline turns green to save big bucks

Sunday, December 4, 2005

MUNDELEIN, Ill. - If you've ever wondered if recycling and weatherproofing could save your company money, just ask Medline, the nation's largest privately owned manufacturer and distributor of medical equipment.

Over the past year, by implementing a host of environmentally friendly practices, Medline saved more than $250,000 and reduced greenhouse emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 1.7 million pounds, the company announced last week.

"We began this effort as a way to save money and energy," said Chief Operating Officer Jim Abrams. "Really, many of these efforts are just plain smart business. But it didn't take long to understand that not only were we saving a tremendous amount of money, we were accomplishing something much more. We were doing something to help preserve and protect our environment. And this is something that we should all be doing."

Some of ways the company has saved money and energy include:

Modifications to lighting
--Retro fitted its warehouses, manufacturing, production and packaging areas with new high output T5 light fixtures and lamps with on/off auto sensors. This reduced the demand for electricity and added more light for employees, increasing productivity and safety.

--Installed light sensors in all unswitched offices, closets and restrooms to conserve energy at headquarters. Replaced fixtures and lamps from T12 to T8. Replaced all incandescent floods to fluorescent low-energy floodlights to conserve energy and reduce heat load on the HVAC systems.

--Exterior parking lot lights were switched to auto on/off sensors from timers to conserve energy and reduce electricity consumption.

--Recycle all corrugated and sorted office paper throughout the entire 1 million-square-foot headquarters. In 2004, recycled 654 tons, and through June of 2005, recycled 355 tons.

--Manufacturing recycles all the plastic parts that do not pass quality assurance. The parts are reground and sold back to the market. In 2004, 199 tons were recycled, and year-to-date for 2005, 168 tons have been recycled.

--Recycle all waste oil from manufacturing processes.

Temperature Control and weatherproofing
--Reseal windows and re-caulk pre-cast exterior wall joints to reduce drafts and load on HVAC systems, which conserves energy.
--HVAC systems in the office buildings use set back thermostats and free-cooling dampers to reduce energy consumption while providing a comfortable work environment.
--An updated, automated water chiller system for manufacturing / molding processes provides free cooling to manufacturing when outside ambient temperature reaches 45 degrees or lower.

Waste disposal
--Installed devices on trash compactors that monitor pressure, ensures a full container, and automatically call the hauler when full. This has reduced expenses 56% by reducing the number of pickups.