A partnership between Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Imperial Health Charity and Britain’s biggest PPE manufacturer Globus Group could see millions of face masks and other items of PPE recycled into new products for the NHS including operating theatre clogs, plastic bed pans, medical scrubs, disposable syringes and even prosthetic finger joints.
Every year 6 billion items of PPE, including around 1 billion face masks, are distributed in the NHS for use by doctors, nurses and hospital staff. This number increased dramatically during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Imperial College Healthcare getting through more than 9.8 million Type IIR surgical face masks in a single 13-month period.
Over the next 18 months Imperial College Healthcare and Globus plan to explore ways to collect used PPE across the Trust’s five hospital sites and evaluate the potential for plastic materials to be recycled and repurposed into new products for use in the NHS.
Dr Bob Klaber, Director of Strategy, Research & Innovation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This partnership with Globus Group is one of the first to address the growing issue of plastic waste in hospitals across the NHS arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. With increased PPE usage becoming the new normal in hospital settings, managing waste is a problem that isn’t going away. It’s more important than ever that across healthcare we’re doing everything we can to reduce our environmental impact. The project will explore the feasibility of efficiently collecting and recycling masks used in our hospitals. If the proof of concept can be demonstrated and shown to be effective then the model could be adopted more widely.”