In an era where environmental consciousness is vital, the concept of ‘zero waste’ has gained global recognition. It’s a term that transcends various aspects of our lives, including healthcare. Leading a zero-waste lifestyle involves minimising single-use plastic usage and actively seeking sustainable alternatives . As our planet grapples with the pressures of global warming, the call for sustainability echoes louder than ever.
Healthcare, while essential, remains a substantial contributor to global CO2 emissions. The National Health Service (NHS) generates a staggering 133,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually, with just 5% of this waste being recyclable. The COVID-19 pandemic placed additional burdens on healthcare systems worldwide, including the management of vast quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) and single-use plastic caps used in temperature measurement, among other items. These critical but non-reusable plastic products come at a considerable cost and leave a significant environmental footprint.
Recognising the urgency of climate change, NHS trusts have embarked on the journey toward “Net Zero” by formulating Green Plans that outline strategies to reduce waste and achieve Net Zero carbon targets. This, however, is a global issue, as the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently reported that over 5 million tonnes of waste, accounting for 4.4% of all greenhouse gas emissions, originate from hospitals in the United States alone. A survey conducted at four Mayo Clinic locations in the United States found that single-use plastics constituted at least 20% of the medical waste generated in US hospitals. Now, governments across the globe have declared a climate crisis, underscoring the critical need for healthcare systems to strive for zero waste.
Zero Waste in a Circular Economy
Healthcare still operates primarily within a linear economy. Resources are extracted from the Earth to manufacture products, which are then discarded as waste once their purpose is served. This linear approach contributes to waste and pollution.
In contrast, a circular economy aims to eliminate waste production and, wherever feasible, reintegrate resources into both the biological and technical cycles, ultimately striving to achieve zero waste.
The core pillars of a circular economy include:
- Eliminating waste and pollution
- Recirculating products and materials (remanufacturing)
- Regenerating nature 
- Introducing Zero Waste Medical Devices
Medical waste is an inherent by-product of the healthcare industry. Unlike choosing to refuse a plastic straw at a restaurant, healthcare faces challenges in reducing plastic waste. It’s an industry where individual influence, particularly that of the patient, is limited. However, single-use plastics are under more scrutiny than ever.
While achieving a Net Zero waste level in hospitals may seem like a daunting task, it must become the cornerstone of sustainable healthcare practices. Through strategic procurement and the systematic adoption of technology designed with sustainability in mind, hospitals can gradually progress on the journey to eliminate plastic waste.
The NHS has focused on enhancing the sustainability of the healthcare system by embracing the principles of Value-Based Procurement (VBP). VBP seeks to deliver sustainable cost savings while enhancing patient outcomes. This approach shifts the focus from reducing product costs to collaborating with the healthcare industry to identify technologies that can reduce overall costs within the patient pathway. The key to this transformation is collaboration with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), unlocking innovation and making it accessible to those striving for healthcare improvement. The VBP approach complements the aim of delivering on the five key themes of Social Value in procurement, which include fighting climate change, supporting staff wellbeing, promoting equal opportunity, addressing economic inequality, and facilitating COVID-19 recovery .
TRITEMP™: A Sustainable Solution
With the need for sustainable healthcare, TRITEMP™ emerged as a medical-grade non-contact thermometer that requires ZERO consumables. The implementation of TRITEMP™ on hospital wards contributes significantly to the reduction of single-use plastic waste and aids hospitals in achieving their carbon reduction targets.
Many hospitals still rely on contact thermometers that necessitate a new plastic probe cover for every temperature measurement. This practice results in substantial waste from single-use plastics. However, the environmental imperative of our times demands a closer examination of such practices. Over 1.4% of supply chain emissions stem from single-use devices, some of which can be refurbished and reused, saving both carbon emissions and costs for healthcare systems .
Co-founder and CFO Paul Molloy acknowledges the growing pressures in healthcare systems:
‘The time for change is now. For example, an 800-bed hospital would produce 5 metric skips of plastic waste, take that, and scale it across the whole of the NHS, that goes across many skips and tonnage of that plastic waste. When this production is multiplied across thousands of hospitals globally, the environmental impact is significant. Small changes, when multiplied, result in significant differences, and it’s imperative that we collectively understand and implement better alternatives to achieve zero waste.’
TriMedika’s Commitment to Sustainability
TriMedika strongly believes in the profound impact of sustainability on healthcare practices. Our efforts to navigate the global healthcare system aim to bring the advantages of TRITEMP™ to hospitals and clinics in need, forging a path toward a more sustainable and cost-effective future for the healthcare sector.
TriMedika’s TRITEMP™ embodies the spirit of sustainability and innovation. As we march toward a more sustainable future, we must embrace solutions that eliminate waste, promote environmental stewardship, and ultimately create a better world for future generations.
‘Zero waste isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a call to action. With TRITEMP™, we can rewrite the narrative of healthcare waste, advancing toward a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future. Sustainability and innovation converge in the form of TRITEMP™, offering a glimpse into a future where healthcare is not just about healing; it’s about healing the world. ’ – Co-founder and CFO Paul Molloy #