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The Princess Alexandra Hospitals NHS Trust Achieves 4,000kg Waste Reduction Annually by Switching to Reusable Medical Hollowware

13 September 2023


Concerned with the amount of waste generated from single-use medical hollowware, the Decontamination and Sterile Services Manager at Harlow hospital, part of The Princess Alexandra Hospitals NHS Trust, was keen to explore the sustainability and financial benefits of switching from single-use medical hollowware to reusable.

In October 2021, he reached out to Warwick SASCo Ltd, the supplier of reusable medical hollowware on the NHS Supply Chain framework, for support.

A six-month project ensued involving extensive data analysis, product sample trials and stakeholder engagement. This resulted in a switch to reusable medical hollowware, via the NHS Supply Chain framework agreement, in April 2022. To date, the switch has delivered a 4,000kg reduction in waste and a £10,000 saving for the trust annually.

Anthony Heard, Sterile Services Manager at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust with reusable medical hollowware products


  • To align to NHS England’s Net Zero strategy, by reducing the amount of plastic waste generated from single-use hollowware, by switching to a more sustainable alternative. See our Useful Links section to read more about the strategy.
  • To explore the financial benefits of switching to reusable hollowware, via the NHS Supply Chain framework agreement, with the aim of achieving additional savings for the trust.

Listening to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) prompted me to explore the possibility of plastic reduction within the trust and I soon identified environmental and financial benefits of switching from single use to reusable medical hollowware. Without working closely with key trust departments, the smooth transition and successful outcomes wouldn’t have been possible.

Anthony Heard, Sterile Services Manager, The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust


  • Establishing what data was needed, and where to access it, to ensure that all associated costs were captured for both single-use and reusable hollowware.
  • Ensuring that the trust had the capacity to decontaminate the reusable items with the three washer disinfectors that they had available.
  • Reusable hollowware, unlike single-use products, need to be reprocessed / cleaned before resterilisation after each use. The wider Central Sterile Supply Department (CSSD) were initially concerned about the impact to existing workload due to the additional washes that would be required.


  • In addition to reaching out to the Commercial Manager from Warwick SASCo Ltd, support was obtained from key departments within the trust including procurement, estates, waste management and theatres, who provided data on product usage, waste disposal and water consumption (for reusable items processed through the washer disinfectors).
  • The data highlighted that Harlow hospital, which runs 5 days a week, was using 65,000 single-use items (kidney dishes, gallipots etc) annually. Switching to reusable items equated to only 15 additional wash loads per week, which was within capacity for the 3 washer disinfectors on site.   
  • The supplier presented the sustainability figures to the CSSD who agreed that the environmental benefits of switching to reusable hollowware vastly outweighed the need to conduct 15 extra washes per week.

The Process

October – November 2021

  • The trust reached out to the supplier to discuss options for switching to reusable medical hollowware.
  • Key stakeholders were identified within the trust to support the project.
  • The supplier presented the benefits of reusable materials to the trust alongside providing a list of product options and samples for the CSSD, and theatres department, to review.  
  • The waste management department confirmed the disposal cost of single-use medical hollowware.

December 2021 – January 2022

  • The trust agreed to trial several different reusable product options to calculate product requirements, cost, washer capacity and workload to determine whether a switch would be feasible and financially beneficial.
  • The CSSD presented the financial and environmental savings (calculated during the trial period) to the trusts board who approved the switch to reusable medical hollowware, alongside commending the CSSD team for the initiative.

February – April 2022

  • The trust placed an order with NHS Supply Chain, for reusable medical hollowware, to replace its single-use items.
  • Technicians from the CSSD were trained on reprocessing of the additional reusable items.
  • The switch to reusable medical hollowware was implemented at Harlow hospital.

July 2022

  • The project was deemed successful, following a six-month review, with savings already reported in the CSSD department.

Project Outcomes

  • 4,000kg waste reduction achieved annually in support of the Net Zero strategy.
  • 65,000 single-use items no longer being used and disposed of annually (2,720 reusable products are used instead which last a minimum of 2 years or 1,000 washes). See our Useful Links section to refer to the product breakdown.
  • £10,000 cost saving annually – following an initial one-off cost of £6,000 for reusable products and racking.
  • The project was presented at the Institute of Decontamination Sciences Conference with the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust highlighted as an example to the industry that switching to reusable medical hollowware is achievable and beneficial.   
  • Additional items have since been identified, and switched to, further reducing the trusts carbon emissions.   

For further information regarding the products available via the NHS Supply Chain framework, please view the Medical Hollowware Contract Information Page. See our Useful Links section.

To discuss switching options in further detail, please speak to our dedicated Hospital Care Team.