Zero Hero

Making waste training about sustainable healthcare

Organisation: Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust
Location: All sites
Name and role: Gemma Cheneler, Education and Training Officer

Gemma Cheneler

What did Gemma do?

“I hate waste, the financial implications are important to me, working within the NHS. If people could understand that choosing the right bins could save the Trust a small fortune it would be brilliant. I try in my waste training to give people facts, like a bag of clinical waste costs 8 times more than a bag of recycling to dispose of. These things matter when budgets are getting smaller.”

Gemma met with the Care Without Carbon team to find out more about sustainable healthcare to ensure that her waste training was really getting the message across, and people felt informed and supported in managing their waste to cut carbon and save money. 

Why it matters

The NHS creates a lot of waste every year which comes with a carbon footprint. Helping staff to understand why we need to manage our waste helps us ensure we segregate it more effectively. The right waste in the right bins means we're not creating more carbon emissions than is necessary for waste disposal, and recycling as much as possible.

Why Gemma is a Zero Hero

Gemma has helped bring our waste training to life for her colleagues, ensuring that key messages about sustainability are shared where they can be fully taken on board.

Since the training was refreshed:

  • Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust recycled almost 38% of non-healthcare waste in 2022/23
  • The Trust improved segregation of healthcare waste post-pandemic with 52% disposed of as offensive waste in line with NHSE recommendations
Two members of staff recyling

Frequently asked questions

The way we dispose of waste has a carbon footprint attached, so something recycled has a lower carbon footprint than something in infectious waste which has to be burnt at a very high temperature. Non infectious clinical waste is not burnt at quite as a high a temperature so making sure you put stuff in the right bins can really make a difference.

For the average NHS organisation, waste adds around 5% to the overall carbon footprint, so tackling it will help towards our Net Zero Carbon target.

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