St Woolos Hospital could revolutionise how the healthcare system deals with medical waste wrap material, following a trial with a recycling machine designed by Thermal Compaction Group Ltd.
The recycling process sees discarded wrap – which is used to package surgical equipment – reduced in volume size by a machine called ‘Sterimelt’.
Its heating and reduction process turns the used wrap into a sanitised, solid, briquette which can then be re-used to make domestic or industrial products, such as buckets and chairs.
“This is the first of its kind in the world,” said Mr Tim Hourahine, technical and compliance manager at Thermal Compaction Group Ltd.
“The trial has shown that we can take the wrap as waste, reduce its volume substantially, render it inert and then re-introduce it to the supply chain.
“For a Newport hospital to be able to do this is unique. The Welsh NHS is taking a close interest in what we are doing and other hospitals are very keen to embrace the technology.
“There is so much interest because, at the moment, the majority of the waste wrap is either landfilled or incinerated which is exceptionally expensive. The recycling process removes that cost, plus it produces a workable product which will have a commercial value in the future.”
Following the year-long trial, between Thermal Compaction Group and the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, both agreed a deal to begin using the Sterimelt immediately.
Peter White, the waste and environmental manager for the health hoard, which agreed to trial the recycling process at St Woolos, one of Wales’ oldest hospitals, said: “Before we implemented this system, all the wrap was going out as infectious clinical waste so there is a significant disposal cost when it goes to alternative heat treatment (incineration).
“Currently, two tonnes of sterilisation wrap from the Royal Gwent Hospital are recycled and diverted from the clinical waste stream per month.
“However, this will increase once the other hospital sites within the health board implement the new system.”
Thomas Davison-Sebry, director of sales and marketing of the Thermal Compaction Group added: “It has all been very positive. Not only is it good from an environmental point of view, it is sustainable and provides its own circular economy.
“It will save the NHS a lot of money, and it creates a revenue source which obviously benefits patient care.”
Source: South Wales Argus