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June 20, 2007

Reducing Medical Waste—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(23):2583-2584. doi:10.1001/jama.297.23.2584

In Reply: Dr Sherman expresses concern about the environmental impact of medical waste on landfill and toxic pollutants. My Commentary focused on one particular clinical microsystem, but I appreciate and agree with his comments.

As Sherman asserts, Toyota Motors emphasizes environmental sustainability in its Environment Vision (“Toyota promotes environmental initiatives that take into consideration the entire lifecycle of a vehicle by implementing thorough environmental management at all stages [sic] production, logistics, use, disposal and recycling.”1) and its third guiding principle (“Dedicate ourselves to providing clean and safe products and to enhancing the quality of life everywhere through all our activities.”2). This is further developed in their philosophy, the Toyota Way (“We aim for growth that is in harmony with the environment throughout all areas of business activities. We strive to develop, establish and promote technologies enabling the environment and economy to coexist harmoniously and to build close and cooperative relationships with a wide spectrum of individuals and organizations involved in environmental preservation.”3). At the immense vehicle assembly plant I visited in Toyota City, no contribution to landfill was reported. Any material entering the plant left as product, was recycled, or was reused. Clinicians in the United States would do well and do good by emulating this behavior.