Hospital bosses have introduced a scheme to recycle surgical drapes, wraps and other plastics used within Burton NHS.
The Queen's Hospital now has a new machine in a project costing £46,500 after making recycling a top priority.
The Belvedere Road hospital has unveiled its brand new sterile plastic recycler called STERIMELT, which can melt polypropylene sterilisation materials, such as surgery drapes and tray wraps, into neat plastic blocks, reducing waste and saving money, said a spokesman.
The processed plastics are ground down and re-used in injection mounded plastic products and black plastics, with previous blocks being transformed in to plant pots, a tool box range for B&Q and electrical fence posts.
The Sterimelt machine made its debut on Thursday, March 22, which also marked NHS Sustainability Day, a day that highlights the important role that sustainable development can play in the health service.
It is hoped that the new machine will achieve at least £5,500 of savings per year – which does not include the income from the sale of the briquettes for manufacture.
Bosses said the Sterimelt was a great innovation and the Burton Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen's, is only the second organisation in the world to own such a machine, they say.
The Sterimelt process begins with surgical items being processed through the trust's sterile services department. During this process, the tray is wrapped in polypropylene wraps to maintain the sterility of the instruments during transportation and storage. Approximately 59,000 surgical wraps, weighing 16 tonnes, are used by the trust annually.
The Sterimelt process removes contamination so that the resulting plastic can be sold on for use in other plastic products. This means that the hospital not only saves the money it would cost to dispose of the materials, but can also generate additional income.
The trust has a sustainability management plan, which the Sterimelt will play a large part in, said a spokesman. It also has plans to introduce bailers for plastics and cardboard, which will crush these materials into cubes so they can be recycled.
A spokesman for Thermal Compaction Group, which developed the Sterimelt machine, said: "Our partnership with the trust came to fruition after we were shortlisted for the Lord Carter innovation award at the Hospital Innovation Exhibition in London. The trust's head of facilities James Chadwick attended our exhibition stand and was quick to see the potential benefits to the trust, both financial and environmental."