A corner of the hospital site is being used to drive what Gwent’s health board and a south Wales company hope will be a revolution in waste recycling. Every day, piles of wrapping for medical equipment that usually has to be incinerated as clinical waste, are being transformed into re-usable material.
The process of transforming the polypropylene wrap, who too often is put routine into the healthcare or clinical waste stream, from the Royal Gwent and St Woolos is carried out using a machine known as Sterimelt, which uses a heat-based process to reduce the size of the waste size and turn it into a sanistised, solid briquette that can then be re-used to make products such as filament for 3D printers.
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has been working with Cardiff-based Thermal Compaction Group (TCG) on the project, and has now taken up the recycling method after a year’s trial.
A hospital in Burton-upon-Trent, in Staffordshire, began using a Sterimelt machine for similar purposes last year, but Tim Hourahine, technical and compliance manager at TCG, said of the St Woolos machine: “This is the first of its kind in the world.”
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.
“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.”