NHS staff in South Cumbria and North Lancashire have made significant progress in becoming more environmentally friendly by dramatically increasing recycling and energy savings across local hospitals.
In 2017, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) diverted a total of 717 tonnes of general waste from landfill to Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), a fuel produced from various types of wastes such as non-recyclable plastics.
This is compared to the 548 tonnes diverted in 2013/14, and equates to a total cost saving of over £264,000 and enough energy saved to power 130 homes all year.
Other environmental contributions from UHMBT in 2017 included:
- 101.33 tonnes of card and paper recycled – the equivalent of saving 1,723 trees
- 3 tonnes of glass recycled – preventing 69 litres of oil being used
- 8,72 tonnes of cans recycled – the equivalent of 26,160 passenger miles in carbon emissions
- 34.11 tonnes of plastic recycled – the equivalent of 2,842,500 carrier bags
- 1,347,360 killowatt hours (kWh) saved by sending materials for recycling and recovery – enough to power 288 households for a year
- 865 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill – saving 2,594 cubic metres of land
Clare Grootendorst, Waste and Compliance Manager, UHMBT, said:
“As a Trust, we have been doing a lot of work to ensure that we become more sustainable. Working to reduce waste and increase how much we recycle not only helps us to become more sustainable in the long run, but also makes sure that our services are running as safely and efficiently as possible.
“We strongly believe that, with the help of our patients and staff, we will be able to continue to develop new ways of reducing our waste and implement the changes needed to reduce our environmental footprint. Creating a greener environment to live in has long term health benefits to our communities and population too.”
The Trust is building on its progress from last year, and is continuing to work towards being even more eco-friendly in the future.
New LED lighting has already been installed in corridors, waiting areas and wards across Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, and is due to be completed at Westmorland General Hospital in mid-June 2018. As well as generally improving the lighting, LED lights provide lower running costs and a reduced carbon footprint.
Alongside the Trust-wide plans, individual teams across the hospital sites are also working towards streamlining processes to cut down their own waste and costs.
One of these projects is electronic meal ordering, developed by staff on the Lancaster Suite at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. By working with the Information and Catering teams, they have been able to implement a new electronic system for ordering patient meals that has significantly reduced waste by more than 59%.
Lisa Winn, Ward Manager, Lancaster Suite, UHMBT, said:
“We wanted to develop a process that meant meals ordered by patients could be done quickly and efficiently, and follow the patient if they moved into different care areas.
“The Information and Catering teams have helped our ideas come to life, and we have been able to create a system where patients can order their meals directly from the ward using an iPad. Whereas using the previous system could have taken up to an hour and a half to complete our ward’s meal orders, it now only takes about 40 minutes, and the amount of food wastage has been reduced by more than 59% over 12 months.”
Other cost-saving, waste-reduction initiatives taking place across UHMBT include the recycling of disposable coffee cups which are sent to Croppers of Burneside – the only company in the UK currently capable of doing this. The Trust also recently introduced re-usable coffee cups to help reduce the amount of disposable ones used across the sites. These are currently on sale for staff, visitors and patients to buy from the hospital canteens.
Foluke Ajayi, Chief Operating Officer, UHMBT, said:
“We are really pleased that our latest recycling figures highlight the commitment we have to becoming a sustainable organisation, and we couldn’t have done this without the support of our staff, our patients and our local communities.
“It’s important to remember that we can all make a difference – whether it be switching the lights off when you leave the office or making sure you recycle, it all plays a part in making sure that the hospitals are running as efficiently as possible.
“We want to ensure that we do our bit to make the Trust even more eco-friendly wherever we can, and work towards minimising our environmental impact and preserving the Morecambe Bay landscape for years to come.”