In a world first for the healthcare sector, Barts Health NHS Trust and Skanska are turning rubbish into a resource at Whipps Cross University Hospital.
Using the ReVend reverse vending machine, the trust aims to earn money and reduce costs with a new approach to recycling.
The machine, manufactured by Reverse Vending, condenses plastic bottles and cans by up to 90% and can hold more than 1,000 items, reducing the time spent collecting recycling by hospital staff, and cutting waste transport costs.
When it’s full, the machine sends an email or text to the hospital facilities team to indicate that it needs to be emptied.
The ReVend then uses technology to identify and sort recycled containers, making them immediately ready for recycling.
Automated collection and storage of cans and bottles that would otherwise have gone to landfill or incineration reduces environmental impact and drastically reduces staff time spent litter picking and emptying bins
The materials, which are sold to recyclers, help to generate extra revenue that is re-invested into patient care.
People simply put empty cans or bottles into the ReVend machine and press a button to start the recycling process. In return, they receive a voucher to claim money off a drink purchased from the onsite restaurant, where the machine is situated, or they can choose to make a charitable donation.
Fiona Daly, environmental manager for Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “We have reduced the number of collections by our staff and the recycling companies, improving our efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
“The introduction of the machine is an important part of our behavioural change programme. It gives us recycling statistics in real time through a secure online link, which is a great motivator, showing us the positive results as they happen.”
Catherine Burrows, environmental waste manager for Skanska, added: “Automated collection and storage of cans and bottles that would otherwise have gone to landfill or incineration reduces environmental impact and drastically reduces staff time spent litter picking and emptying bins.”