In a groundbreaking initiative, St Woolos Hospital in Newport, one of Wales' oldest hospitals, is spearheading a global shift in healthcare waste management by recycling sterilization wrap—a crucial component in surgical procedures. Collaborating with Thermal Compaction Group and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, the hospital has successfully tested the revolutionary 'Sterimelt' machine. This innovative technology transforms polypropylene sheets into sanitised briquettes, reducing waste volume by an impressive 90%. These briquettes, derived from the wrap's base element, can then be repurposed into various products, such as buckets, stationery, ropes, and chairs.
Over the past year, St Woolos Hospital has conducted extensive trials, successfully reducing clinical waste disposal costs by 50-70%. Tim Hourahine from Thermal Compaction Group expressed, "This is the first of its kind in the world," emphasizing the global interest in this eco-friendly and cost-effective solution. The Welsh NHS, recognizing the environmental benefits, sustainability, and economic advantages for patient care, is closely monitoring these developments, with other hospitals eager to adopt this transformative technology.
In a related initiative, the UK's RecoMed project, supported by the British Plastics Foundation, has achieved success in recycling PVC medical waste. This impactful project has operationalized in seven sites, recycling over 830 kilograms of PVC medical waste in a month. It targets items like IV solution bags, nasal cannulas, oxygen tubes, anaesthetic masks, and oxygen masks. By collecting these items, RecoMed aims to prevent unnecessary incineration of medical devices, recycling them into products for the horticultural industry.
Furthermore, the 'CircMed' project, launched in September 2015, explores circular economy business models for supplying refurbished medical imaging equipment in the UK healthcare sector. Co-funded by Innovate UK, the six-month project focuses on medical imaging equipment's potential lifespan extension through refurbishment. Axion, the driving force behind 'CircMed,' envisions a more sustainable future for the UK healthcare sector, emphasizing the potential impact on affordability and sustainability of diagnostic equipment in hospitals. These initiatives collectively mark a significant step toward creating a more environmentally conscious and economically viable healthcare system.