Sustainable procurement and waste management

For the Trust to achieve a more circular local flow of goods and materials, that saves it both money and resources (whilst also contributing to the wider sustainability of its supply chains), it is essential that procurement works hand-in-hand with waste management. Almost all of the products we buy, we also subsequently throw away. Linear supply chains mean that we are, in effect, buying our own waste. We continue to make progress in identifying the more circular relationships between purchasing and waste management through the combined endeavours of our Environmental Services, Procurement and Sustainability teams. Good working links to identify ‘circularity’ benefits have continued to develop through the Clinical Consumables Evaluation Group, assessment of tender specifications and Pre-Acceptance Waste Audits; and, more opportunistically through periodic staff communications relating to waste segregation, collection and disposal queries (including links with the team-based Think Green Impact behaviour change programme).

The commercial relationships between supply chains and recycling or re-use infrastructure, however, remain and are typically beyond the Trust’s direct control or effective sphere of influence. We have however made some material steps to reduce the deployment of plastic single-use items through working with our on-site retail partner, Compass, to remove polystyrene food containers and plastic cutlery from the supply chain. A detailed review of single-use of cups has however proved more challenging and we have yet to find a practically viable and genuinely recyclable alternative for disposable hot beverage cups – the focus remains on promoting the take-up of re-usable cups as the long-term optimal solution.

Performance across the Trust’s three main collated waste streams continues to improve. The balance between the necessary on-site incineration of clinical waste and the recycling and landfill of domestic waste continues to shift away from landfill.

As an acute hospital campus there are waste types which is often hazardous or contaminated. This means it is bound by tight regulations as to how it can be disposed of: re-use and recycling are not available disposal routes for these types of waste. The Trust incinerates all clinical and offensive waste on site in what is, essentially, total destruction - with the exception of the recovery of heat from the burning process that is then used to warm the premises.

As with other aspects of sustainability, we depend upon staff, patients and visitors to use the sustainability infrastructure that the Trust puts in place as effectively and responsibly as possible. For waste management this essentially means users putting items in the correct bin when they have finished with them. The potential for bagged waste to hide mistakes and errors in this sorting (or segregation) at source are both perennial and significant in terms of safety and sustainability.  The Environmental Services and Sustainability Teams continue to actively promote safe, sound and sustainable segregation with plans in train to rebrand the current communications media set and introduce an essential on-line training module for all staff.

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