Some 12,000 employees are being trained to source-segregate waste better from the two hospitals that form Guy’s & St Thomas’ in London. Combined, the hospitals produce around 2,000 tonnes of domestic and clinical waste each year.

With the help of two private sector waste contractors, SCRL and Bywaters, the trust has already increased recycling levels by 34% over the past year. All of the trust’s waste is managed by SRCL, aided by a site roll out of recycling bins supplied by Bywaters to collect mixed dry recyclables.

Through more stringent segregation methods, clinical waste levels have also dropped significantly. In the first half of 2011, clinical waste sent for incineration fell by 48%, despite an increase in the amount of overall clinical waste generated.

The NHS trust’s waste manager Alan Armstrong says that staff education has been instrumental in achieving results. He said: “Looking back, just four years ago, near enough all our waste, which didn’t require specialist treatment, went to landfill.

“We’ve made significant progress in the interim, but what has been our main challenge is educating our 12,000 staff members to instil recycling into their everyday work lives.”

He added that going forward, work will be done on separating out “offensive waste” from clinical streams. Armstrong and his 34-strong waste team will be identifying departments where this waste can be easily separated – for example special care baby units.

“It’s a difficult challenge, especially in this environment, but by undertaking waste audits within different wards and departments and providing guidance on how to improve sustainability we’ve seen significant achievements in a short time,” he added.

More details on how Guy’s & St Thomas’ is working towards better recycling rates can be read here

Maxine Perella

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