Friday 14 April 2023

Single-use items make up 68% of NHS’ carbon footprint

Single-use items make up 68% of NHS’ carbon footprint

Two-thirds of the NHS’ carbon footprint come from single-use surgical items.

That’s according to research by Brighton & Sussex Medical School and the University of Warwick, revealing that gowns, drapes for patients and instrument tables make up the majority of these plastics.

Out of possible operations, knee replacements were revealed to produce the most carbon emissions, followed by gallbladder removal, carpal tunnel decompression surgery and hernia repair.

A knee replacement on average produced 85.5kg of carbon, far more than the second-place gallbladder operation, with 20.3kg.

Using data from three sites at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, the researchers found that more than 80% of surgeries’ carbon emissions were produced by just 23% of its items.

They found that switching out single-use items for reusable ones and improving waste processing would cut the carbon emissions of the NHS by a third.

Lead researcher Dr Chantelle Rizan said: “Eliminating single-use items or switching to reusables where feasible, alongside optimising associated decontamination processes and waste segregation and recycling, could reduce product carbon footprint by one-third.

“This model was based on reusable alternatives already on the market, and this figure may be surpassed where industry rises to the challenge of sustainable surgical product innovation.”

NHS England has committed to net zero by 2045.

It has been approached for comment.

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

Trending Articles