Green Campaign at Forth Valley Royal Saves Money and Helps the Planet
Tens of thousands of pounds have been saved following a three year campaign by NHS Forth Valley theatre staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to reduce their carbon footprint and help save the planet. Measures taken have included discontinuing the use of one of three anaesthetic gases which stays in the atmosphere longer than similar substances and has a higher contribution to global warming, reducing the amount of waste which requires to be incinerated or heat treated and cutting back on cardboard waste. The bid to reduce the carbon footprint has been achieved without impacting on patient care or the efficient running of the department and the theatre team are now appealing to other Health Boards across the country to adopt similar schemes.
Theatres at Forth Valley Royal Hospital generate a large amount of waste on a daily basis. Prior to 2016, the majority of the waste was placed in orange clinical bags which are sent for incineration or heat treatment. This is a costly process both financially (in excess of £400 per tonne) and for the environment due to the CO2 emitted by the processing and the transport. Measures to segregate waste more efficiently in theatres (by ensuring non-clinical waste such as cardboard and packaging, which does not require incineration, is not incorrectly bagged up with clinical waste) and recycling non patient contact items, where appropriate, the theatre team at the hospital has reduced the amount of orange bags sent for disposal by almost a quarter. This has saved around £7,000 per year on waste disposal, and has reduced the amount of CO2 emitted from heat treatment and incineration.
No longer using one of the three anaesthetic agents has saved £32,000 a year and prevented more than the equivalent of 300 tonnes of CO2 being emitted annually. The environmental impact is similar to 200 cars off the road or 1.6million car miles. In addition, cardboard is being further segregated (the theatre department generates around 60kg of cardboard per week) and is now being recycled, saving a further £1250 per year on waste disposal.
NHS Forth Valley, Consultant Anaesthetist, Ewan Jack, Clinical Lead for Theatres, said: “The recycling doesn’t stop within the operating theatres, it has spread to the coffee room and administration offices in the theatre department. All recyclable waste is now being segregated for recycling including paper, plastic containers, cans, glass bottles, printer cartridges and batteries.
“The future at NHS Forth Valley is bright and we’d encourage all other departments within our hospital and elsewhere to follow our practice to help save planet and the NHS.”
Three of the Consultant Anaesthetists at NHS Forth Valley are active members of the Scottish Environmental Anaesthesia Group, which shares and spreads ideas of good practice. The next step for Forth Valley Royal Hospital includes auditing the amount of electricity used out-with normal working hours and identifying ways to reduce this.