Reducing waste in the theatre environment

Felicity Hughes's picture

I'm a junior doctor interested in reducing the amount of clinical waste produced by the theatres in the hospital that I work in, much as the recycling project in the Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital did.

It would be great to hear from others who are implementing similar projects, or know of similar projects that are currently in operation.


Theatre waste

James Dixon's picture

Hi Felicity,

We've been recycling in our operating theatres in Newcastle for a while now (both in the staff rest areas, recovery and the theatres themselves). However, it has not been without its problems. Before recycling was introduced we had one major acute hospital putting all theatre waste into orange bags whilst our other major acute hospital at least put their non-clinical waste into black bags in their theatres. The first step was to get the "all orange" site to adopt black bags for general waste, which wasn't too difficult and provided a major cost saving. The second step was to trial clear bags for clean recyclable theatre waste. This was a success primarly as it was enforced by a keen Senior ODP.

We now typically use clear plastic bags for segregating the clean packaging waste from theatre setup (mostly clean paper and plastic from sterile packs) and then an orange bag for contaminated waste generated during the operation.

Happy to hear of other people's experiences!



Recycling in the Healthcare setting: The potential for theatres

Sean Manzi's picture

Hi Felicity,

I have been conducting research in the South West of England around sustainable healthcare waste management for my PhD. During this research I had some interesting conversations with the theatre manager at one of the hospitals. At this particular site they had implemented recycling everywhere accept within the theatre environment. The theatre manager was having difficulty with the logistics of implementing recycling practices while adhering with CQC guidelines and restrictions. Specifically this was with regard to unused equipment that had been in the theatre environment during surgery. Current guidelines stated that this equipment had to be disposed of in the clinical waste however there is no evidence based reasoning behind this. I would be very interested to hear how people have been able to overcome these difficulties.

The culmination of my research has been to produce a framework for the improvement of health and social care waste management behaviour. This is an evidence based framework that describes the factors influencing the behaviour of the individual and a set of interventions. I am very interested to expand this work to the theatre environment as this was not within the scope of the original research. Also if yourself or anybody else is interesting in hearing more about this project and the framework I am happy to discuss my work. The team and I at Plymouth University are currently looking for collaborating sites to test and develop this framework further.

Your case study is a wonderful example of sustainable practice that sets a fantastic precedent for other organisations to follow suit.

All the best

Sean Manzi


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