SWITCH Waste initiative - UHNM

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Overview summary:
SWITCH Waste is an innovative solution available to the NHS and healthcare sector. It facilitates standardisation in waste management- resulting to cost, carbon and quality benefits.

Our mission: “Deliver sustainable benefits to the healthcare sector, achieving a cleaner, safer, patient environment and experience, along with financial savings associated with the improved segregation of waste”.

It was first adopted by University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) and has resulted in a Waste Management service that is regarded as a national leader.
Challenge identified and actions taken :
The way Waste services are managed has a huge impact upon operational and financial efficiency, as well as environmental sustainability and compliance. UHNM recognises the impact that its operations have on the environment and the link between sustainability, climate change and health. The Trust has implemented a range of measures in order to enhance its responsibility as a waste producer, for example, UHNM strives to achieve high standards for waste management from the point of disposal, and when waste is produced; increasing the amount that is reused, improving waste segregation and giving more presence to recycling and diversion from landfill.

The SWITCH Waste partnership with UHNM, exemplifies all of these principles.


SWITCH Waste allows pre-sorted, non- hazardous waste (domestic and offensive), to be segregated at wards and department level and then transported internally in separate colour coded 770 litre waste bins. It is then jointly compacted (within the same compactor) for onward disposal at the local waste to energy incineration plant, where the embodied energy within these waste streams is recovered and used to generate electricity and heat.

SWITCH Waste also has an educational program that informs colleagues on the importance of sustainability and encourages them to improve working practises.
Impacts / outcomes:
UHNM has had positive outcomes from facilitating the SWITCH Waste innovation. Firstly, managing their waste has reduced costs and improved the patient environment. The correct segregation of waste has provided UHNM the opportunity to reduce waste costs. For example:
  • Using Tiger bags (offensive waste) as standard and only using Orange bags if the patient is infectious;
  • Using clear bags (recycled waste) alongside black bags (domestic waste)
SWITCH Waste achievements made by UHNM:
  • The safe and compliant declassification and diversion of a significant proportion of waste went into non-hazardous waste streams.
  • Introducing a culture of staff empowerment and a ‘blended learning’ technique for education which comprises:
    • SWITCH Waste e-Learning modules
    • Waste Management e-Learning modules for specific staff groups
  • By improving the quality of waste segregation and declassifying a large proportion of waste to ‘non-hazardous’, UHMN has enabled an opportunity/freedom to transport and dispose waste in a different way by no longer requiring the use of a specialist clinical waste contractor and facility.
  • With specific waste procedures and staff education in place, the local Waste to Energy facility have deemed the risk of contamination by hazardous waste at a low level and accept UHNM non-hazardous waste as ‘mixed’ waste stream, duel consigned by the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code.
    • This is a first for the NHS and a municipal disposal facility- achieved with engagement by the Environment Agency.
  • UHNM is a zero waste to landfill Trust.
  • SWITCH Waste adopted by UHNM has resulted in a Waste Management service that is regarded as a national leader and is currently positioned in the lower quartile for waste costs according to Lord Carter.
Supporting quote for the innovation from key stakeholders:
Jenny Clarke, Matron, Estates, Facilities and PFI, UHNM:
The UHNM SWITCH Waste project has been a resounding success and an example of how clinical staff have embraced change. The waste team have given nursing staff the knowledge, information, resources and support to enable them to decide the best way to dispose of waste in their clinical areas. This has been a superb example of how clinical and facilities teams can work together….it has been a “win –win” for all concerned.”

Louise Stockdale, Head of Environmental Sustainability, UHNM:
"The Mixed Waste solution has enabled a huge opportunity with the way we store, transport and dispose of waste –This whole solution is innovative yet simplistic. It is enabling the Trust to receive efficiency, operational and quality benefits whilst also bolstering our local economy by using its services.”
Which local or national clinical or policy priorities does this innovation address:
The SWITCH Waste initiative has already been implemented at UHNM and has helped to achieve a more sustainable approach to waste management through facilitating a lean and innovative approach which results in cost, carbon and quality benefits. The SWITCH Waste initiative is fully proven, commercially deployable, market ready and already adopted.
Plans for the future:
UHNM is working with the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) in order to roll out SWITCH Waste, thereby standardising efficiency across local NHS Trusts.
Tips for adoption:
For more information contact SWITCH Waste: Email: switch@clinisolutions.co.uk
Contact for further information:
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