Giving Waste Materials a Second Life
Proceeds from warehouse materials Kaiser Permanente donated to the Azusa Habitat ReStore help underserved families build or repair ‘a place to call home.’
After Kaiser Permanente Southern California transitioned operations at its Dalen Street warehouse to help streamline its pharmacy storage and distribution work, hundreds of unused plastic totes, crates, carts, and plastic and wood pallets remained in the Downey facility. But rather than spend the money and effort to transport the materials for disposal, Kaiser Permanente Southern California found a way to give them a second life and divert hundreds of pounds of waste from the landfill.
Through a partnership with San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity, Kaiser Permanente recently donated the materials to the nonprofit’s Azusa Habitat ReStore. Run by local Habitat for Humanity organizations, the independently owned ReStores accept donations and sell home improvement items and building supplies to the public at a fraction of the retail price.
“Ninety-four percent of all donations directly benefit Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to bring people together to build, renovate, and repair affordable homes for underserved families in local communities and around the world,” said Frances Hardy, director, resource development, San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity. “This greatly benefits the person or business donating or buying, the community, and the environment.”
Committed to improving quality of life where people live, learn, work, and play, Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians continuously look for ways to do business differently to impact the community. So when it came time to discard the leftover warehouse materials, Sonny Covarrubias, assistant manager, Downey Drug Distribution, posed the question: “Can this be recycled?”
“My thought was if there’s a way to recycle the materials as well as help people, that would be a great approach,” Covarrubias said.
The $25,000 generated by Kaiser Permanente's product donation, combined with its employee volunteer hours donated in 2017-2019 and financial support in 2018-2019, "helped build 20 homes,” Hardy said.
“Climate change will harm human health, so reducing carbon emissions is part of our community health strategy. Here, a small change in practice improves the conditions for health in our communities in multiple ways – a healthier environment, support for housing, and connecting community partners.”
-- John Yamamoto, vice president, Community Health and Government Relations, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals
Kaiser Permanente is looking at other ways to leverage its partnership with Habitat for Humanity. During a recent tour of the Azusa reuse store, Kaiser Permanente facilities leaders discussed donating more items to Habitat’s ReStores, as well as potentially purchasing items from them for use at Kaiser Permanente facilities.
“As a nonprofit organization, Kaiser Permanente is always looking for opportunities to help communities we serve,” said Randy Florence, National Facilities Services, construction manager for regional buildings. “By working together with partners like Habitat for Humanity, we can make the best use of our business resources while enhancing community health and making the world a better place.”