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Reducing plastic waste in plastic surgery

07 July 2021

The team of plastic surgeons at our Chelsea site investigated the main issues with recycling and came up with some solutions.

By Vishal Patel, Henry Armes, Mr Eckersley, Mr Horwitz 

The challenge 

By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. Around 40% of all the plastic produced (300m tonnes) per year is used for packaging, which is predominantly single use. The team of plastic surgeons at our Chelsea site investigated the main issues with recycling and completed a baseline audit, which was found to be a lack of recycling bags, overuse of equipment and waste being put in the wrong bags as well as single use plastic being used instead of recyclable materials. 

What we did 

The team spoke to ISS to obtain the correct waste bags; they also plan to upgrade the size of the current recycling bin which will save costs by reducing waste bag usage. The team are now ensuring any non-contaminated equipment goes in the recycling bin and started an education drive to stop the use of clear waste bags for recycling. A main focus was reducing the amount of plastic equipment used where possible to cut down the main cause of waste in theatres. 

Key learning 

After the campaign, the team reassessed the initial project measures. There are now accessible green recycling bags being used in the theatres, and the education campaign has been found to be useful. There is now higher accuracy with each waste bin’s contents, although some mistakes are still made. The team feels the main learning point is that using less plastic is much more beneficial than recycling plastic, although both are a means to an end of the overproduction of waste in healthcare. There is still a lot of work to do to spread this message more widely.

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