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NRAs 2016 - Healthcare Recycler Of The Year

Winner: Sharpsmart UK in partnership with Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Hospitals across the country utilise different types of container to dispose of sharps waste; most use burn bins which are produced by a number of companies. While these types of bins meet current guidance on disposal of sharps waste, they are not always the most sustainable option.

Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (YDH) chose to use a more environmentally sustainable method: a reusable sharps container. Sharpsmart’s reusable containers have prompted a new way of looking at the sharps system.

As well as helping to reduce costs by removing plastic from waste streams and therefore mitigating the need for incineration, the bins undergo a rigorous cleaning cycle after each use, and typically last up to 500 washes or up to 10 years. Not only does this ensure that all viruses are removed, but it also significantly reduces costs associated with procuring and disposing of new bins.

This was a good example of a solution to a problem of dealing with a difficult and expensive waste stream in a way that reduces costs and environmental impact

Judges’ view

YDH started its trial in summer 2015 and rolled the scheme out across the site. The trust has signed a three-year contract with Sharpsmart, and will see a range of benefits across the board, including savings of more than £16,000, a reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 145 tonnes in comparison with disposable burn bins, a reduction in sharps waste sent to incineration of more than 25 tonnes, an improved patient and employee experience, reduced waste volumes and educational opportunities for all staff.

With statistics showing that the average hospital generates 12kg of waste per patient each day, the volume of waste generated as a result of burning plastic is known to contribute heavily to environmental issues and the lingering threat of climate change.


  • Aintree NHS Trust in partnership with B&M Waste Services
  • Whittington Health


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