Although hospitals must meet certain requirements in terms of hygiene and safety, it's still possible to adopt some aspects of a circular economy in the healthcare sector.
Finding ways to reduce and reuse waste, minimise consumption, and close the loop will help NHS trusts reach challenging Net Zero targets.
It will also help them reduce costs, but the benefits of becoming more sustainable go beyond this. Helping to protect the planet also means helping to protect people, which is key for a sector looking after people at its heart.
It's initially hard to reconcile the circular economy model with the healthcare sector. Single-use plastic items are widely used due to their hygiene benefits - this has been demonstrated during the pandemic when many single-use items have been favoured over reusable alternatives. In addition, energy consumption is unavoidably high in the sector. However, with the right partner, it is possible to identify opportunities to incorporate closed-loop solutions. In addition to making trusts more sustainable, adopting the circular economy can create cost savings, as well as boosting the reputation of trusts in the local area as being environmentally responsible.
Sustainable solutions to suit individual trusts
Veolia can work with you to look at ways of introducing closed-loop solutions, or of making existing processes more sustainable. This is not just limited to looking at bigger areas like energy, or more complex waste generated from surgical processes. It includes reducing waste across the board, and increasing recycling rates, by auditing current waste processes, streams, and quantities. This allows more of the hospital's plastic, cardboard, and so on to be recycled and turned into new products.
When it comes to surgical waste, and the single-use plastic items that are a necessary part of procedures, could it be possible to introduce more recycled plastics into these items? We can support you to explore different options and advise on the steps we could take collaboratively to improve sustainability at your trust. Utilising renewable energy such as solar could also help you to embrace a more circular approach, as it would enable you to minimise your consumption of other fuels. Even making relatively small changes is a good step towards achieving a circular economy, and will position healthcare as a forward-thinking, sustainable sector.