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Scottish NHS wastes money by not recycling

The next time you find yourself waiting for a hospital bed, ask yourself, "Do they recycle?"

A recent survey of Scottish hospitals found that large numbers had failed to recycle their domestic waste.

Waste management costs the Scottish NHS around £8 million every year, a figure that is set to rise with increases in Landfill Tax and legislation such as the Waste Electrical Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive coming into force.

The damning report by Audit Scotland said that reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill could achieve cost savings for NHS Scotland, but that hospitals had a long way to go in their recycling practices.

Even though paper and cardboard accounts for 83% by weight of the waste from hospital administration areas and over 50% of the domestic waste from wards, almost two-thirds of hospitals did not have a paper recycling scheme and over half failed to recycle their cardboard.

This, however, was better than Audit Scotland's first hospital report in 2001, which found little evidence of reuse or recycling at all.

Audit Scotland deputy auditor general Caroline Gardner said: "It is encouraging that progress has been made in managing hospital waste. However there is still much more to be done. NHS boards and hospitals need to make improvements now to safeguard the environment."

Scottish hospitals' recycling of materials other than paper and cardboard was also minimal.

Only 13 % of hospitals recycled glass and just one third recycled materials such as batteries and toner cartridges.

On top of highlighting the need for hospitals to recycle more of their domestic waste, the report pointed out opportunities with advancing technology to recover material and residue from clinical waste.

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