Close to a tonne of PPE otherwise destined for incineration or landfill has been recycled in a major green project by VetPartners.
VetPartners initially piloted its recycling project in 100 practices in October last year, but extended it to 300 sites across England, Scotland and Wales to help deal with increasing use of PPE in the pandemic.
Now, it says 200,000 items, including masks, aprons and gloves worn by clinical teams, have been recycled – weighing a total of 797.64kg or 0.8 tonnes.
A total of 487 zero waste recycling boxes have been put in place by TerraCycle, a company specialising in hard-to-recycle waste.
Providing items are not contaminated with clinical waste, all types of PPE can be placed in the boxes, which, when full, are quarantined for 72 hours before pickup by TerraCycle, which then collects the boxes and separates the individual components for recycling.
Plastics and metals can be reprocessed into new materials for items such as furniture, garden accessories and playground equipment, and paper and organic fibres that can’t be reprocessed are turned into compost.
VetPartners sustainability manager Hannah James, who organised the project, said: “It is fantastic to see the figures and realise the positive impact we have had on the environment as the waste has been reprocessed into new materials rather than going into landfill or being incinerated.
“We have had positive feedback from our practice teams welcoming the opportunity to recycle PPE. During the pandemic, practices increased the amount of single-use PPE being utilised as we needed to protect their health and well-being, but the impact this would have on the environment was a concern.
“Even after COVID-19 has run its course, we will continue to have the boxes in our practices as there is a budget to continue. Our practices are really embracing sustainability and offering them the TerraCycle boxes for PPE prompted many of them to start looking at other sustainability initiatives as well.”
VetPartners has set wider sustainability goals, launching its first sustainability strategy in January.
Dr James will be a guest speaker at VMG-SPVS Congress, to be held virtually on 13 and 14 May, in the sustainability in practice session on 14 May.
Credit: 200,000 PPE items recycled in VetPartners project
In-text: (Vet Times, 2021)
Vet Times. (2021). 200,000 PPE items recycled in VetPartners project [online] Available at: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/200000-ppe-items-recycled-in-vetpartners-project/