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Royal Berkshire Hospital revealed to be recyling just a tenth of its waste; Reading hospital insists it is working with staff on new green initiatives.

Byline: James Aldridge

Royal Berkshire Hospital is recycling just a tenth of its waste.

The NHS says it is "committed to providing the most effective, fair and sustainable use of finite resources" - however, how well individual hospitals are doing varies dramatically.

According to data published by NHS Digital, 11 per cent of waste produced byRoyal Berkshire Hospitalin 2017/18 was recycled.

That was 186 tonnes out of a total of 1,756 tonnes of waste produced at the hospital.

Across NHS sites in England, 25 per cent of waste was recycled in 2017/18, while 14 per cent went to landfill.

The hospital inReading,Berkshire, sent none of its waste to landfill.

The rest was incinerated (546 tonnes) or disposed of by other forms of recovery, such as anaerobic digestion or incineration with energy recovery (1,024 tonnes).

When it comes to electricity use at the hospital, 3.7 million kilowatts were used in 2017/18, none of which came from third-party renewable sources or from green energy tariffs.

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getreading contacted the hospital's NHS Trust to asked what it is doing to enhance recycling and sustainability.

Steve Sellwood, Facililties Manager at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We're currently working closely with all our staff on recycling initiatives with the aim of removing items from the regular waste streams and earmarking them for recycling.

"We are running an initiative at the moment to test the recycling of surgical PVC face masks and tubing.

"In the past, these materials would have been incinerated at high temperature.

"It's hoped we can roll this out to other suitable areas of our work very soon, cutting down on the bulk and cost of disposing of these items.

"Mixed recycling is expanding throughout the hospital and work is being done to reduce single use plastic items where practicable.

"Much of our waste, due to its nature, requires incineration.

"However, the hospital has moved to the use of tiger bags for certain types of non-infectious waste which is now being disposed of at low temperature incineration and creating energy. "

Tiger bags are strong bags that can be used to dispose of non-infectious waste such as plasters, wound dressings, nappies and incontinence pads.

The Royal Berkshire Hospital's record on waste management and renewable usage is relatively average compared with other hospitals across the country.

At NHS sites throughout England, just six per cent of electricity used in 2017/18 was from onsite or third-party renewable generation or from a green energy tariff.

The carbon footprint of health and social care in England has reduced by 19 per cent since 2007, despite a 27 per cent increase in activity.

However, the 2018 report from the NHS Sustainable Development Unit acknowledges this still leaves a significant challenge to deliver Climate Change Act targets that would see hospital carbon footprints reduced by 34 per cent from its 1990 baseline by 2020 and by 51 per cent by 2025.

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There are big variations in how well different hospital sites in England are doing in terms of sustainability.

Out of 410 sites run by hospital trusts, 26 got all of the electricity they consume from renewable or green sources in 2017/18, while 129 got at least some electricity from these sources.

In terms of recycling, two sites recycle all of the waste they produce, while a total of 59 recycle at least half.

However, there is one site that sends all its waste to landfill, and 46 that send more than half.

The Sustainable Development Unit found 92 per cent of the public and 93 per cent of staff expect the health and social care system to operate in a sustainable manner by, for example, improving resource efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and reducing waste.

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Mike Childs, Head of Science at Friends of the Earth, said: "Health professionals have warned of the dangers to health from climate change, ranging from extreme heat waves to the spread of mosquito related diseases.

"All NHS Trusts have to play their part in curbing global warming by using energy more efficiently and using green energy.

"Many green initiatives will save money but will require upfront investment.

"The government needs to put addressing climate change centre-stage in its forthcoming spending review, including in identifying a new settlement for the NHS.

"Preventing the human and environmental impacts of climate change needs investment, but like many preventative actions the pay back will be very significant."

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The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Craven Road, Reading
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Publication:Get Reading (Reading, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 22, 2019
Words:783
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