AUSTIN (KXAN) – Ascension Seton Williamson was recognized as a facility leading the way in utilizing environmentally-friendly practices to reduce waste at the hospital. 

Medxcel, an Indianapolis-based provider of health care facilities, recognized five Ascension hospitals around the U.S. that have made significant progress toward environmental sustainability. Medxcel and the Ascension system partnered a decade ago to help move the Ascension health care system towards a greener future. There are 139 Ascension hospitals across 19 states in the U.S.

“Healthcare facilities actually add up to about 10% of the total emissions within the US,” said Bridget Randazzo, a sustainability analyst for Ascension. “Ascension realized that our actions affect our patients, so [we wanted] make sure we leave a positive impact on our communities and make healthier communities,” she continued. 

Ascension Seton Williamson in Round Rock was recognized for its successful food waste digestive initiative. Through the program, the hospital utilizes digester machines, which use organic microorganisms and oxygen to break down food waste. 

The digester helps decrease the amount of waste sent to the landfill, the number of trips taken and the need for pest management. 

More than half the waste sent to landfills is organic. When it decomposes in the landfill, it creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas with roughly eight times the warming potential as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, according to the Rocky Mountian Institute. 

“Food waste is one of the greatest emitters of greenhouse gases from landfills. By reducing the amount of food waste that we send to local landfills, we are helping to reduce those greenhouse gas emissions and create healthier communities,” Randazzo said. “Ascension Seton Williamson has been a rock star with their digester.” 

Randazzo said that across the Ascension network, there are 70 food digesters. She said Ascension Seton Willamson was recognized because of the amount of food waste it has reduced. The hospital network hopes to reduce the waste sent to the landfill by 6% by the end of this financial year and aims to be net zero by 2040. 

The green goals don’t stop with waste reduction. Within Texas, Ascension Seton hospitals have begun to transition to clean energy sources, such as solar and wind. 

 “And that will help us reduce our carbon footprint and essentially aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 across all our sites of care, which includes Williamson,” she said.