Resource Use

Online reuse platform helps NHS Trust win sustainability award

The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust has come first in the Reuse category of the NHS Sustainability Awards, with the help of online reuse platform Warp It.

The Royal Free London Hospital

Warp It is an online redistribution network which allows organisations to share unwanted items internally or to partner organisations, helping staff to reuse and recycle. Many items, such as furniture and stationery, have been donated to other departments in the trust, and assets worth almost £5,000 have been claimed from other organisations on Warp It’s network.

Through using the platform, the Royal Free London has saved £242,681 in 19 months, diverting over 50 tonnes of waste from landfill and reducing over 100 tonnes of CO2.

As well as saving money and preventing waste, the system has freed up staff to provide support elsewhere in the trust – reduced need to purchase orders is freeing up staff in the procurement department, whilst porters have gained more time now that they are no longer required to dismantle furniture for recycling.

Dave Reavy, Head of Security and Support Services, said: “This is an excellent way of saving the NHS money, reducing waste, and using available funds for the important stuff, such as patient care.”

The system was first implemented when support services manager Sumal Karunaratne raised concerns about the scale of waste in the trust. He then assembled a cross-party action team and engaged senior management to bring Warp It into force, incentivising the scheme by providing free transport for reuse and charging a fee for staff seeking to dispose of reusable items.

Warp It has provided an informative video to explain how to use the system and encourage staff to reuse and recycle.

Karanaratne said: “Without this system, we could not have scaled this across the organisation. Warp It has already rolled the system out across 20 per cent of the NHS, and their help and guidance throughout the process was instrumental.

“This project has demonstrated to many that recycling and reusing is possible, and we are now refurbishing chairs and exploring other items for refurbishment. We are also currently exploring the business case for external or internal repair. Everyone’s eyes are now open to circular economy solutions.”

The NHS faces complications with regard to its waste disposal – whilst medical equipment and supplies can be reused via the Warp It website, much of the NHS’s waste is clinical, meaning that it could contain potentially harmful chemicals or pose a risk of infection.

Read more: What’s the prognosis? Clinical waste management in the NHS

Saving money by reusing non-clinical items allows the NHS to divert funds towards disposing of hazardous waste, which must be collected by licensed operators. The Royal Free London currently has 782 staff actively engaged in the system, making the trust the second-best performer in Warp It’s national league table.

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