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Health & Social Care | Veterinary

How a Practice Saved £16k by Tackling Special Waste

Wear Referrals is a purpose-built multidisciplinary veterinary hospital located in the North East of England, now working towards iiE Silver Award. The hospital employs roughly 170 staff and specializes in neurology, soft tissue, orthopaedics, internal medicine, cardiology, and oncology.

They were very conscious that the veterinary industry can have a negative impact on the environment through waste, and identified reducing plastic waste as a key area to improve the hospital’s impact. To tackle plastic waste, the team at Wear Referrals decided to focus on the use of incontinence pads in the hospital, as a significant reduction could be achieved through a combination of positive communication and inspiration – and turning to practical alternatives.

Originally, Wear Referrals used incontinence pads under bedding, on examination tables, on operating tables, and to clean up urine and other liquids. On average, the hospital used 900 incontinence pads a week, which cost the practice approximately £16,000 per year.

The team has now reduced incontinence pad use by educating associates and recommending the use of incontinence pads in only certain circumstances. Wear Referrals’ approach consisted of supportive communication about the embedded greenhouse gases in plastic and the problem of their impact on the environment when they end up in landfill, as well as highlighting the shocking volume and cost of incontinence pads used by the hospital. The biggest reduction was achieved by simply ceasing to use incontinence pads under bedding and on examination tables.

Furthermore, the practice reduced the use of other plastic by repurposing more materials used within the hospital. For example, surgical gowns are packed with 2 hand towels, which are not utilised by surgeons, and can be used to empty patients’ bladders after a surgical procedure instead of an incontinence pad.

Wear Referrals staff embraced change, and since implementing measures in October 2021, the hospital has seen a 450% decrease in incontinence pad use.

Maren Junior, RVN and Wear Green Lead, reflects ‘it is so rewarding to see the positive impact that this simple change has made on the amount of waste we produce and therefore our carbon footprint’.

Wear’s approach demonstrates how thoughtful consideration of waste and resources can lead to big environmental wins right alongside cost cutting.

In 2020, Wear Referrals became a member of Investors in the Environment (iiE) and achieved iiE Bronze Award by early 2021. In 2015, the hospital was a winner in the County Durham Environment Awards due to the building’s design, appearance, use of energy efficient measures, and eco-friendly features such as a green roof, solar panels, and biomass wood chip boiler.

Find out more about Wear Referrals, a part of Linnaeus Veterinary Limited since 2018.