Spectrum Health Distribution Center Recognized for Excellence in Recycling

LANSING, Mich., May 24, 2019 –  At its 37th Annual Conference in Ann Arbor last week, the Michigan Recycling Coalition recognized the Spectrum Health Distribution Center and the Delta County Solid Waste Authority manager, Don Pyle for excellence in recycling in an award ceremony.

In 2018, the Distribution Center committed to become the first Spectrum Health facility to achieve zero waste to landfill. That year they successfully recovered 87 percent of all trash. Nearly 539 tons diverted from landfill through recycling.

‘’Health care is committed to caring for the health of our patients and the environment. As a supply chain department, we’re working to become a sustainability center of excellence and example for the organization on how to improve the health of our communities, create economic health and reduce our environmental footprint.’’ Kurt Knoth, Vice President of System Supply Chain Services.

The Distribution Center took a very methodical approach to tackling their waste issues by conducting dumpster audits to identify and separate types of waste into recycle, compost, reuse and landfill. Through the process they learned nearly 73 percent of waste discarded could have been recycled, indicating the need of new approach.

The Distribution Center now has seven internal teams that work together on these issues. They regularly work with staff to identify and sort waste and recycling in the correct bins and have achieved 100% compliance. They regularly communicate with staff through newsletters, lunch and learn opportunities, and weekly “Sustainability Test Drives” that allow staff to identify and target materials for continued work. The Center successfully changed organization behavior by engaging and supporting staff to resolve sustainability and recycling issues and has become a model for Spectrum Health and others.

Don Pyle got his start in the Upper Peninsula waste business, when the trash dump was a place where bears went to feed. When the State began closing dumps in favor of engineered and lined sanitary landfills, Pyle saw an opportunity. He bought a truck, he opened a couple of transfer stations, and called his business Northern Refuse. Eventually, in the late 90s he sold that business to what is now Great American Disposal. He stayed on at Northern Refuse to oversee the construction of the Munising Sanitary Landfill.

In 2000, he ended up at the Delta Solid Waste Management Authority. Under his methodical leadership, the Authority has grown to provide disposal, recycling, composting, and household hazardous waste services to businesses and residents in the region. Pyle has also served on the Michigan Recycling Coalition Board of Directors since 2007 guiding the statewide association to successfully secure funding to grow recycling in Michigan.

Both award winners have shown the kind of commitment and leadership that serves as a model and is inspiring to others.


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Kerrin O’Brien

Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,600 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 150 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $585 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.

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