The Cardiff-based company, Thermal Compaction Group (TCG) has developed a new clinical waste recycling process, which could transform how healthcare providers deal with clinical waste and create a new revenue stream for a cash-strapped NHS.
TCG, a waste management group that seeks to offer solutions to global waste problems, has created a new Sterimelt machine that recycles clinical sterilization wrap in a bid to reduce waste disposal costs and improve sustainability in hospitals.
The machine creates briquettes from polypropylene, the base element in waste sterilization wrap used in hospitals to protect sterilized surgical instruments.
This melts the wrap material and converts it into a liquid that solidifies in a mold cavity, creating a 12-20 kilogram block.
The operating temperature needed to melt the material is much higher than a normal sterilization process, but is low enough to avoid the carbonization or deterioration of the material, meaning that it retains recyclate value.
The briquettes, sterilized with an 85 per cent volumetric reduction, can then be sold on by the hospital and reintroduced into the supply chain to be used in the manufacture of a range of products such as furniture, fence posts, and many other domestic and industrial products.
Described as “The first of its kind in the world”, this innovation is designed to tackle the vast amount of clinical waste produced each year, with US hospitals producing 2.2 billion kilograms of medical waste each year, of which 20 per cent is sterilization wrap. Furthermore, an average sized hospital will produce around 100 kilograms of sterilization wrap waste a day, which is then disposed in landfill or incinerated.
TCG completed a year long trial of the machine at St Woolos Hospital in Newport, which one of Wales’s oldest hospitals and part of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB). As part of the trial, clinical waste was also taken from the nearby North Gwent hospital.