Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust steps up waste and recycling activities

This year’s Global Recycling Day took place on 18 March and celebrated the “recycling fraternity;” those who put themselves on the frontline to collect waste and recycling during the multiple lockdowns.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) is committed to reducing waste, increasing the amount they recycle, and educating their teams on sustainability issues, which will have significant health benefits for the patients and the communities they serve.

The Trust has set a target of becoming one of the greenest NHS Trusts in the UK, and despite the pressures faced by the pandemic, has stepped up their waste and recycling activities. As part of Global Recycling Day, the Waste Team will be providing 1,000 cardboard recycling boxes, for use in staff rooms and non-clinical areas to encourage more staff to recycle their waste.

Waste management plays a significant role in the Trust meeting its sustainability targets and for the past five years, the Trust has stopped sending waste to landfills and converted it into energy. In 2021 they entered into a new partnership with Veolia, which means all general and offensive waste produced by the Trust now goes to the Leeds Recycling & Energy Recovery Facility. This generates electricity for Leeds, including the Beckett Wing, part of the Trust’s estate at St James’s Hospital. 1,890 tonnes of general waste has been sent to the site so far, and 700 tonnes of offensive waste, saving 280 tonnes of CO2e emissions and £270,000 annually.

The Trust has also invested in a Sterimelt recycling machine, developed by Cardiff-based Thermal Compaction Group. The machine melts polypropylene sterilisation materials, such as surgery drapes and tray wraps, into neat plastic briquettes that can be re-used, helping to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Craige Richardson, Executive Director Estates and Facilities said, “Promoting recycling and converting waste into energy is one of several steps we are taking to become greener. We are currently working on the second version of our Green Plan, which will detail the action we need to take to become carbon neutral by 2040. In addition to the waste and recycling initiatives, we are investing over £20million in energy saving projects, increasing the number of electric vehicles in our transport fleet and working with clinical teams to reduce the carbon footprint within our wards and theatres.”

Procedures are in place across the Trust for dry mixed recycling, confidential and clinical waste. To raise awareness of healthcare waste and sustainable practices, a targeted waste awareness training programme has been developed, delivered by an in-house Waste Training Educator. Trust staff that score highly in their waste audits or make significant changes to their waste segregation processes can be crowned a ‘Be Waste Smart Champion.’

Everyone has a part to play in this work, and innovative environmental projects are taking place across the Trust. A brilliant example of this is the Trust’s Emergency and General Surgery Team, who won the Green Surgery Challenge. Their project used a gasless procedure for laparoscopic appendectomy and reduced the amount of waste produced by changing from disposable to reusable gowns and replacing single-use instruments with reusable instruments.

You can read more about the Trust’s sustainability work and view its Green Plan here: https://www.leedsth.nhs.uk/about-us/sustainability/