RecoMed PVC recycling scheme now in ten hospitals

Pioneered by anaesthetists, the award-winning RecoMed national PVC collection scheme for single-use waste PVC medical devices is now established in ten hospitals where it is helping clinical teams to increase recycling and reduce waste costs in theatres.

Run by project partners Axion Consulting, a resource recovery specialist and the British Plastics Federation (BPF), RecoMed supplies recycling containers, communication materials and collections to participating NHS and private hospitals. Axion Consultant Robert Russell reports on the scheme’s success to date.

Set up in 2014, RecoMed collects PVC items used by healthy patients who have undergone elective surgery and sends these for recycling. Funded by VinylPlus, the European PVC industry sustainability programme, the scheme provides an alternative, sustainable disposal route for waste medical items made from high-quality medical grade PVC.

This readily-recyclable plastic is used to make 40% of medical devices, especially those used frequently in anaesthesia and critical care. A large proportion of PVC is used in anaesthetic facemasks, post-operative oxygen masks, fluid administration sets and associated tubing.

The average UK hospital uses more than 12,000 oxygen masks per year and around eight million anaesthetics are administered each year. It is estimated that up to 2,250 tonnes PVC could be recycled by collecting these items alone from 150 hospitals in the UK. The NHS spends over 80million on waste each year and so could make savings through recycling.

Provided free of charge, RecoMed recycling bins are sited on wards next to non-infectious clinical waste bins and staff are given clear instruction on what items can be accepted. Daily collections are taken to a central waste hold from where the RecoMed team deliver them to the specialist recycler.

Hospitals can play a key role in helping to increase the recycling of PVC and implementing RecoMed is straightforward with positive feedback.  June Cadman, Waste Management & Environmental Services Officer at Rotherham Hospital says: “I’ve had an excellent response from the clinical staff using the RecoMed bins. All are accustomed to the Trust’s recycling initiatives, keen to assist and have given 100% support.”

June adds: “If you think RecoMed is for you, discuss it with other hospitals that are already using it. It is very easy to implement, providing additional recycling with no cost to the hospital for implementation. Taking part in the scheme also adds to our sustainability target as the plastic is reused in new products.”

Mark Lepine-Williams, Assistant Hotel Services Manager at another NHS hospital - Frimley Park, Surrey – says the collection scheme ‘allows the trust to recycle another product that wouldn’t normally be recycled’.

He comments: “RecoMed has been really helpful in the implementation of this. They’ve provided bins, training and support. The whole process has worked really smoothly.”

For more information on RecoMed, contact Axion Consulting on 0161 871 0567 or visit the website -

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