PPE and plastic bottle
Hayley Carmichael
Communications Manager
2 minute read

We can support Plastic Free July all year round by reducing single use plastic in healthcare

Daily use of single use plastic is prevalent within healthcare. For example, between Feb 2020 and March 2022, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) distributed 8.74 billion items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health and social care services in England – this is a huge amount of single-use plastic, and during the pandemic was unavoidable. But going forward we can look for more innovative approaches.

Unfortunately, within healthcare, healthcare related plastic waste (as opposed to general waste, such as a plastic bottle) is usually incinerated – this means 100,000 tonnes of CO2 is released into the atmosphere every year!

What we have been doing

The Infection Prevention and Control team were approached by Care Without Carbon and the Hospital at Home team, due to concerns around the use of unnecessary PPE – it was agreed that glove use was not always needed for things like drawing up IV medication as good hand hygiene was sufficient. This led to a local policy change allowing staff to reduce their use of gloves and other single use plastic PPE, which helps to tackle single use plastic use.

How we create awareness

Reducing glove use is a good start, and an area we are keen to continue to promote awareness of with all Trusts.

In addition annual campaigns such as Plastic Free July and World Recycling Day help to raise awareness about the importance of reducing the waste we create, and recycling as much as possible. Participating in annual campaigns has great benefits, such as –

  • a reduction in waste
  • protects the community
  • promotes circular economy (reusing resources)
  • Saves money (if things are reused)
  • Educates others, promoting behavioural change
  • Creates new habits

How you can help

Supporting and taking part in campaigns is a step in the right direction but here are some ideas to actively reduce single-use plastic in the workplace: