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'Waste Watchers nurses in disguise!'

The Royal Berkshire Hospital has launched a waste awareness campaign to try to cut down on the amount of rubbish it throws away each year. Hospital service manager Steve Sellwood has set up a waste watchers programme to get the local community and hospital staff on board to help the hospital recycle more. He is also appealing to local companies in the area to help fund the hospitals recycling initiative. He said: Years ago most hospitals had incinerators where they would throw and burn all their rubbish. Now that most of those incinerators have been sold off, few hospitals can afford to run an incinerator. So we have to get out of that mentality that says you can just throw your rubbish anywhere. At the moment the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust spends £370 per tonne on waste that it throws away - 480 tonnes of clinical waste and 580 tonnes of non-clinical waste per year. Sellwood said: This is a lot of money and a lot of waste. A lot of people in the wards throw away recyclable things in the clinical waste bags, such as newspapers and flowers. If we were to recycle these items we would save a lot of money. We have all sorts of imaginable waste from ink cartridges, to fire extinguishers to office equipment. The trust is appealing to local companies to take the waste away in a revenue neutral pact with the hospital. For example, the trust could give away 40 ink cartridges to a waste company which would provide its services free in return. Sellwood added: There will not be a problem with hygiene. That is why we have identifiable clinical waste bags. A waste watcher is somebody who can provide a focal point on all issues of waste in the ward, and work out good ways of implementing the waste hierarchy. This person could be a nurse or a housewife from the local community. The initiative started on July 19 and has received a welcomed response from hospital staff. We are a small village, and if we can get people on board we can create a whole of army of people who can make a necessary change, said Sellwood.

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