Resource Use

Trial scheme to reuse medical equipment a success

Waste management company FCC Environment has organised a trial scheme in Wigan for the donation of used but serviceable medical equipment. In just three months, almost 380 pieces of equipment have been returned.

FCC set up a collection point at each of its three household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) in Kirkless, Slag Lane and Chanters Industrial Estate, where residents can donate medical equipment such as Zimmer frames, walking sticks, crutches and wheelchairs that they are no longer using.

Trial scheme to reuse medical equipment a successBarry Elder, FCC Environment Contract Manager, said: “In the last few weeks alone we have seen a range of items, from walking frames to crutches, come in. The items collected to date are all going on for reuse. It’s great to know that they will go on to have a new life saving the council and NHS money and reducing the amount of material going to waste.”

In 2014/15, the NHS spent £87 million on waste. Most of what the NHS throws away is made up of protective materials like medical gloves or contaminated equipment such as IV bags, which often cannot be recycled in order to maintain high hygiene standards. This makes schemes like FCC’s, which make use of medical equipment which can be recycled, that much more promising, as they have the potential to reduce refuse from a highly wasteful sector.

Read more: Medical waste recycling process could provide NHS with revenue source

Paul Barton, Environment Director for Wigan Council, said: “Many people are discharged from hospital with equipment that is designed to support their recovery or make their lives a little easier but when that equipment is no longer needed, we wanted to do what we could to bring those items back into serviceable use.”

For instance, estimates from the Department of Health and NHS Trusts suggest that only one in every five pairs of crutches issued by the NHS is returned after use. With each pair priced at £17, approximately £3 million per year is spent on crutches alone, despite the items often being needed for only a short period of time.

Barton continued: “Providing a collection point at our three recycling centres makes it easier for residents to bring their items in so that they can be put back into service for the good of the community. We would encourage residents with these items to bring them in to us as part of the deal and help us to recycle more, recycle right.”

To see what kind of equipment can be recycled, check out the Wigan Council’s website.

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