“Market Cap $9.69 B As of May 2014
- Industry: Healthcare Services
- CEO: Charles Alutto
- Website: www.stericycle.com
- Employees: 14,924
- Sales: $2.14 B
- Headquarters: Lake Forest, Illinois
- #1701 in Profit
- #1112 in Market value
Stericycle, Inc. is engaged in the business of managing regulated waste and providing an array of related and complementary services. The company’s regulated waste services include medical waste disposal, Steri-Safe medical waste and compliance program, its Clinical Services program, its Bio Systems reusable sharps disposal management services, pharmaceutical waste disposal, and hazardous waste disposal. In addition to its regulated waste services, it also offers regulated recall and returns management services, patient communication services, and medical safety products. The company also provides communication services to healthcare providers to improve office productivity and communications with patients. It serves hospitals, laboratories, physician practices, dental clinics, long-term care facilities, as well as numerous other businesses, facilities, and healthcare providers that generate sharps or potentially infectious material. The company operates through three segments: International Waste Management Services, Domestic Regulated Waste Management Services and Domestic Regulated Recall & Returns Management Services. The company was founded in March 1989 and is headquartered in Lake Forest, IL.”
The ‘80s and the Issue
The seeds of Stericycle were planted in the late 1980s, around the same time that illegally disposed medical waste began rolling onto the beaches of the Atlantic Coast. The media dubbed the event “Syringe Tide.”
The Law That Created an Industry
As a result of the media attention and the public outcry, the US Congress passed the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988, and the US medical waste industry was born. The law mandated separating and tracking medical wastes — instead of using routine practices that often combined medical wastes with “bulk” (regular) wastes.
The Trouble With the Law’s Implementation
Although the final disposal of medical waste was safer once it left a facility’s dock, the greatest risks remained at the source of disposal.
Written with the intent of protecting people and the environment, the law also created confusion about which wastes were considered “medical waste.” As a result, many hospitals and other healthcare facilities began disposing almost all of their wastes as medical waste. On its face, this may sound like a reasonable practice, but it actually created new difficulties:
- Healthcare Costs Grew
- Incineration Increased
Stericycle Offers a Solution with Great Potential
Stericycle was founded in 1989, and our company’s plans addressed key questions for our customers:
- What if we helped protect people from needlesticks and other biohazards at the origin of the risk?
- What if we taught our customers how to separate biohazardous medical wastes from other wastes to reduce costs?
- What if we used a new technology that helped render medical waste noninfectious without air emissions?
Support for the Idea and the Struggles of the Early ‘90s
Our original focus was on hospital medical waste. We introduced a new cost-effective way to render medical waste noninfectious. This method used a combination of heat, grinding of the wastes, and long-wave radiofrequency technology.
Like many other start-up companies that grapple with cash flow and initial capital expenditures, we struggled financially. Still, we maintained our commitment to our customers.
The Mid ’90s and a Turnaround
A series of events changed the course of our history:
- We went public, trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange in August 1996
- We acquired the medical waste business of Waste Management in December 1996
- We began our international expansion with a joint venture in Mexico and a licensing agreement in Brazil — both in1998
Our medical waste business emerged as the industry leader when we acquired 14 other acquisitions.
We also reached out to physicians, dentists, and the numerous other professionals and companies who dispose sharps (eg, needles, lancets, syringes) and other biohazards. Extending our services to these many customers, rather than hospitals alone, helped us protect more people across the continent.
Our Focus on Customer Education Continues
From the start, our emphasis on customer education differentiated Stericycle from other companies. We thought of the management of medical waste as a service that included resources and training. We helped our customers to properly segregate different types of wastes in accordance with regulations to protect themselves from numerous on-the-job biohazards.
To that end, we pioneered the Steri-Safe OSHA Compliance Program to offer customers critically important bloodborne pathogens training. Today, we maintain that educational legacy, which keeps our customers up-to-date with the latest information. One of those updates includes HIPAA Compliance that incorporates the 2013 Omnibus Rule.
Our International Initiatives Relieve Administrative Burdens
Outside of the United States, we strove to provide the same level of protection and risk reduction while helping meet emerging regulations, administrative requirements, and social concerns. Our international business grew through acquisitions.
Just as our hospital services and Steri-Safe OSHA Compliance Program have helped to reduce administrative burdens for so many US customers, we created services, tools and resources that relieved administrative burdens for healthcare professionals not only in Mexico, but also in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ireland, Japan, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Scotland, Spain, United Kingdom, and Wales. Beyond services related to healthcare wastes, in some markets we have expanded our service offerings to include management of certain hazardous wastes as well as patient transport and medical courier services.
Our Sustainability Programs Grow
Throughout our history, we actively sought opportunities to expand our ability to protect people and safeguard the environment.
We grew our hospital sustainability offerings in 2003 when we acquired Bio Systems and introduced our Sharps Management Service. Today, Sharps Management Service with Bio Systems containers has become the US leader in reusable sharps container management service.
Additionally, our pharmaceutical waste programs provide proper disposal of unused or expired wastes in hospitals, private practices, and pharmacies across the country.
Moreover, our hazardous waste services help a wide range of customers ensure that RCRA pharmaceuticals and other RCRA wastes are managed properly.
In retail, distributor, and manufacturing markets, our ExpertSUSTAINABILITY division began providing customized solutions for excess inventory and unsalable items in 2010. These solutions reduce disposal costs, protect our resources, and build sustainability scorecards.
Our Expansion Into Recalls and Returns
For Stericycle, medical waste services and compliance was just the beginning. We actively sought out opportunities that expanded our ability to protect people and brands. In 2003, we entered the reverse distribution industry via acquisition of DirectRETURN.
We are now the leading provider of pharmaceutical, medical device, durable goods, and consumer goods recall, trade returns, and retrieval services. Our systems handled the single largest prescription drug recall event in US history. Our business has expanded to provide other brand protection services like mystery shopping through Corporate Research International, and we continue to innovate ways to support a variety of manufacturing, distributor, and retail clients.
Our Communication Solution Division Launches
In 2010, we acquired three large communication companies, expanding our service offerings into Healthcare Communication Solutions and Commercial Communication Solutions. Several other acquisitions followed giving us a leadership position in telephone support services. Serving customers and patients across the United States, our Communication Solutions team provides a breadth of services designed to provide an exceptional customer experience for patients and customers.
Only the Beginning
Throughout our company’s history, we’ve focused on our customers, regulated industries, education, and sustainability — all in support of our core purpose to help our customers fulfill their promise by providing solutions that protect people and brands, promote health, and safeguard the environment.”
*Information from Forbes.com and Stericycle.com
**Video published on stericycle.com