Skip to main content

Smarter recycling to cut hospital waste

Operating theatre recycling
The amount of single-use plastic items required to intubate one patient in the operating theatre (image courtesy of CTMUHB)

An Accelerate-funded project aims to cut the amount of waste sent to landfill by encouraging hospital staff to recycle packaging in a clinical environment.

The NHS produces up to 600,000 tonnes of waste each year, and around 85% of this waste is categorized as non-hazardous. Although much of this waste is recyclable, a significant amount is still incinerated or sent to landfills.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTMUHB) produces over 2,000 tonnes of waste annually. Operating theatres and pathology laboratories produce the greatest quantities. A significant part of the waste is the packaging of consumable products that are routinely used on a single-patient basis.

Now a six-month collaboration between Cardiff University academics, Veolia Environmental Services, Innotech and CTMUHB is exploring ways of generating new products from waste traditionally sent to landfill, whilst improving staff recycling behaviour in a clinical environment.

The project aims to introduce new recycling bin protocols that meet appropriate clinical standards, promote behaviour change around staff recycling practices, enhance processes for managing waste and improve communication around appropriate recycling processes.

Accelerate is supporting delivery through Cardiff University’s expertise in rigorous data collection, evaluation and project management.

Academics will work alongside the health board’s provision of clinical environments and the staff input required to implement new protocols and training.

Industrial partners will contribute valuable expertise in waste management streams and recycling advances, and together this partnership will work towards the advancement of more sustainable practices within NHS Wales.

Project benefits are expected to be cost savings through increased recycling, results from an academic evaluation, procurement changes to facilitate the purchase of more recyclable products and a reduced carbon footprint for the health board, as well as further collaboration between project partners.

It is hoped a scalable model will be rolled out across NHS Wales, delivering cost savings, staff engagement, improved waste management and greener procurement practices.

Read the published case study

Operating Theatres Recycling

A case study to change staff behaviour by demonstrating the impact of improved recycling behaviour.