A new pilot scheme at a London NHS trust is set to explore how discarded personal protective equipment (PPE) can be recycled into products used by the health service, such as disposable syringes, plastic bed pans and even prosthetic finger joints with Globus Group and NHS Trust.
This latest sustainability innovation comes under a partnership between Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Imperial Health Charity and PPE manufacturer Globus Group.
The organisations have teamed up to address the “growing issue” of plastic waste in hospitals since the coronavirus pandemic and to investigate how single-use plastic facemasks can be efficiently collected across the trust’s five hospital sites.
As part of the pilot, there will be an evaluation of how materials can be processed, recycled and repurposed into new products for use in the NHS.
This could include items such as operating theatre clogs, plastic bed pans, disposable syringes and prosthetic finger joints.
The pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in the levels of plastic waste from hospitals, with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust using more than 9.8 million surgical facemasks during a 13-month period.
This new project, which is funded by the Imperial Health Charity and Globus Group, will run for 18 months and aims to build on the organisations’ shared commitments to the reduce waste and achieve net zero carbon in line with the NHS 2045 target.
Dr Bob Klaber, director of strategy, research and innovation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, claimed the new partnership was “one of the first to address the growing issue of plastic waste in hospitals across the NHS, arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. With increased PPE usage becoming the new normal in hospital settings, managing waste is a problem that isn’t going away. It’s more important than ever that across healthcare we’re doing everything we can to reduce our environmental impact. The project will explore the feasibility of efficiently collecting and recycling masks used in our hospitals. If the concept proves successful and effective, then it could be adopted more widely.”