Help in process for analysing theatre waste

Olly Mawson's picture

Hi, I am the Sustainability Engagement Officer for the RD&E Trust in Devon. I am working with Theatre colleagues to develop plans to reduce our clinical waste in theatres. Does anyone have any procedures or processes to analyse waste that they have utilised in their Theatres dept? In particular we want to do a 'snapshot' of waste generated from a procedure and measure how this could be either reduced or recycled where possible. If you have any suggestions on how we can do this or have done a piece of work or case study, that would be amazing. Thanks in advance!


Theatre waste audits

Cassandra Thiel's picture

There are many ways to approach this, but it depends on your limitations and what you hope to accomplish. If you have enough space to sort through the trash, that's always the most revealing. This is a nice pub of sorting through one day of waste in the ED: (and finding what's improperly sorted). If you don't have space or there is another issue with digging through the trash (labor, regulations) you could just have unused items collected separately from the main trash or recycling collected manually and just weigh the total weights of garbage.  If you want to read waaaay too much, you could check out the chapter in my thesis where we audited hysterectomy waste (for a very detailed approach):


Theatre Waste Audits

Lynn Sproat's picture


In terms of plastic waste reduction in theatres you may be interested in:  Measuring and reducing plastics in the healthcare sector which can help you to carry out a plastics use audit.


Lynn Sproat


Theatre Waste Audit

Collette Germon's picture

hi, I used to be the waste manager at Torbay.  Pre Covid I would open bags of waste to assess their content and audit as part of  pre-acceptance audit.  Theatres at Torbay were VERY good in segregating possible recycled items and helped initiated reusable sharp containers.  However they still generated a lot of waste which had to go for incineration.  Theatre waste is mainly contaminated with iodine which is seen as a pharmaceutical and therefore has to be incinerated.  Gowns, gloves, masks, bowls, drapes, curtains - all very large items got contaminated.  Waste in the theatre generally incineration and waste captured prior in pre-op rooms or after in recovery was much easier.  would have been good if some of the bowls could be washed rather than single use plastic but that is another matter for HSDUs and IC Teams.


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