How healthcare heroes saved Allina Health $193,000 through reuse

February 26, 2024

Allina Health is a nonprofit health care system with over 28,500 employees and 8,000 providers delivering exceptional care across 90 clinics and 12 hospital campuses. As one of the largest health care providers in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, Allina Health is committed to reducing their environmental impact for the greater health of their patients, employees, and surrounding communities.

In an inspiring journey towards sustainability and cost efficiency, Allina Health has been using Rheaply to find major success in cost savings and landfill avoidance. Allina Health aimed at harnessing the power of circular economy principles within the healthcare sector. Spearheaded by the Environmental Sustainability team, this initiative took its first steps in 2021, embarking on a journey in reuse that other health care systems are beginning to recognize and implement across the country.

Allina Health's challenge

When a clinic or site closed, some usable furniture and supplies were often tossed in the trash because there was not an easy way to rehome them. Meanwhile, surplus material was stacked in storerooms, back closets and basements of sites around Allina Health while another site would be purchasing the same item new.

"If we can avoid buying materials that are sitting in someone else's closet, everyone and the environment wins."
Suzanne Hansen
Allina Health Sustainability Manager

Suzanne Hansen, Allina Health Sustainability Manager, heard stories from staff members across clinics, departments and facilities looking for alternatives to the trash bins within the hospital and campus grounds.

“Waste is often on the top of our staff minds. It’s even higher than climate change because it’s something that they can touch and feel, and see go in the trash—and the healthcare industry has a lot of trash!” she explained.

Piloting reuse

In 2021, Hansen successfully applied for a waste reduction grant from Dakota County to engage Rheaply for the launch of a four-month pilot program for the Allina Health Burnsville clinic closure. This program required collaboration between clinic managers, facilities project management staff, interior designers, sustainability staff, and the Rheaply team. Rheaply’s inventory management and resource exchange platform enabled Allina Health employees, facilities, and external partners to procure and redistribute medical supplies, furniture, and fixtures. In addition to the Burnsville clinic, items from four different Allina Health facility cleanouts were included in the pilot program because the timing worked well. Working with Beltman Moving and Storage, the four facilities were able to relocate and reuse the items that were in good condition at other Allina Health locations. The Rheaply platform was used for the items that did not have an obvious new location..

Upon the launch of the pilot program, the sustainability team reached out to interior designers, clinic managers, and facility administrators from across Allina Health. Nearly 90% of surveyed Allina Health administrators and clinic staff said that their locations had surplus resources that were in good condition for reuse. They recognized that reusing materials not only benefited the environment by diverting usable resources from the landfill, it could also reduce procurement and storage costs by mitigating duplicative purchasing and the fees associated with storing unused items.

Pilot program success

in cost savings
$ 0
diverted from landfill
0 lbs

Reuse at scale

Since launching the Rheaply pilot in 2021, 20,700+ lbs has been diverted from landfills or incinerators, resulting in $193,000+ in recaptured value thus far.

The results were clear. Sites with tight budgets could now create new workspaces from cubicles, furniture, and even art pieces that were once in jeopardy of being thrown out. The benefits brought from scaling the use of Rheaply went beyond cost savings. Rheaply’s Customer Success team provided comprehensive onboarding, high-touch collaboration, and intentional outreach to support the work of Allina Health’s sustainability staff in addition to a number of other roles within the organization.

Total program success

in cost savings
$ 0
diverted from landfill
0 lbs

The case for surgical instrument reuse

In July 2023, work began to inventory Allina Health’s Surgical Instrumentation Warehouse at Bandana Square Clinic. As of December 2023, over 3,600 instruments have been posted at a value of nearly $97,000. At this site, 1,767 surgical instruments were exchanged for reuse, totaling $51,000+ in cost savings for this department alone. This has become one of the most profound reuse opportunities for Allina Health, all within about 6 months!

A team of 4 members manages the Surgical Instrumentation Warehouse, with two primary helpers for adding items to the marketplace. Amber, a Sterile Processing Technician, has been a huge champion of reuse at Allina Health. Prior to Rheaply, Amber said there were thousands of instruments sitting idle for years, and it was extremely hard to find particular instruments people were requesting because they had no pictures and numerous emails needed to be exchanged. Today, she finalizes publishing listings on behalf of the team and has ownership over the success metrics she has helped bring to the company.

"With Rheaply, we have something at our fingertips that we can easily utilize to make a huge impact on our bottom line and the environment."
Amber Portillo
Allina Health Sterile Processing Technician

Allina Health Instrumentation Warehouse success

items posted to Rheaply
items exchanged for reuse
value identified
$ 0
value recaptured
$ 0

Looking forward

Allina Health serves as a beacon for healthcare providers and organizations worldwide, showcasing the untapped potential of combining technological innovation with circular economy principles. This initiative has not only resulted in significant savings but has also laid down a blueprint for more sustainable practices in healthcare and beyond. 

If you’re ready to scale reuse at your organization, Rheaply is here to help!

Use what you already have like Allina Health, resulting in cost savings and landfill avoidance.

Sell what you no longer need through a preferred network of buyers sourced by our team and approved by your organization. 

Decommission smarter by letting our team deliver speedy, tangible solutions to your project.

Impact your community through donation matchmaking and comprehensive reporting. 

Invest in reuse today and commit to the future of your business for tomorrow.

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Internal reuse can save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars