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NHS to recycle to heal waste disease

The National Health Service will pledge to minimise its waste and increase recycling as part of a drive to cut carbon emissions across the organisation.

The plan is part of a new strategy, Saving Carbon, Improving Health, produced by the NHS.

Under the proposals, every NHS organisation should monitor, report and set targets on its management of domestic and clinical waste, including minimising the creation of waste in medicines, food and information technology.

Waste in the NHS continues to increase and last year cost it £71.2 million and one in every 100 tonnes of domestic waste generated in the UK comes from the NHS.

The strategy states that investment in sound waste management will save money and reduce carbon emissions.

A report published last year showed that the organisations emissions in 2004 were 18.6 million tonnes and rising. This accounts for more than 3% of all emissions in England, and if the NHS was a country it would have been ranked as the 81st biggest polluter in the world that year, between Estonia and Baharin.

The NHS Confederation has calculated that recycling all paper and newspapers could save up to 42,000 tonnes of C02. The strategy also proposes that all NHS organisations should contract only with waste management companies who are able to provide them with robust data on quantities of waste collected and disposed as a result of their healthcare activities.

The strategy acknowledges that there is still a debate to be had over its approach to reusing single use items versus decontamination options. It states: Boards should undertake a balanced risk assessment of waste and its associated costs and carbon...

The NHS wants to cut its carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050 to comply to the Climate Change Act targets.

Pencheon said: The NHS is an internationally renowned health service, Europes largest employer and a leader in local communities across the country. By leading by example the NHS can help mitigate climate change and improve our health tomorrow, as well as today.

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