The RecoMed national PVC collection scheme for single-use waste PVC medical devices is now established in ten UK hospitals. The award-winning scheme, pioneered by anaesthetists and run by project partners Axion Consulting and the British Plastics Federation (BPF), is helping clinical teams increase recycling and reduce waste costs in operating theatres.
Established in 2014, RecoMed supplies recycling containers, communication materials and collections to participating NHS and private hospitals.
Funded by VinylPlus, the European PVC industry sustainability programme, the scheme takes PVC items used by healthy patients who have undergone elective surgery and sends them for recycling – providing an sustainable alternative disposal route for waste medical items manufactured from medical grade PVC.
Medical grade PVC is used to make 40 per cent of medical devices, and is extremely common in equipment used in anaesthesia and critical care such as anaesthetic facemasks, post-operative oxygen masks, fluid administration sets and associated tubing.
UK hospitals use over 12,000 oxygen masks per year and administer around eight million anaesthetics on average. By collecting these items alone form 150 hospitals in the UK, it is estimated that up to 2,250 tonnes of PVC could be recycled. The NHS spends more than 80 million on waste each year so could make savings through recycling.
RecoMed provides recycling bins free of charge on site next to non-infection clinical waste bins and gives staff clear instruction on what items can be accepted. Collection take place daily and are taken to a central waste hold from where the RecoMed team deliver them to a specialist recycler.
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 per cent support.
[RecoMed] 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.”
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