Refactory boxes reduce single use plastic at GP Practices across Cornwall

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Following a raised awareness of the amount of single use plastics used in Primary Care, the Climate Resilience Team at Volunteer Cornwall secured a grant from the Naturesave Trust of £2,500 to buy Refactory boxes for 40 Cornish Practices. These boxes specifically take items such as PPE and medicinal blister packs that cannot be recycled under normal schemes.

Waste is a complicated part of Primary Care and there is a growing enthusiasm to reduce waste as much as possible, especially single use plastics.

With 40 Practices participating in this scheme, the project hopes that not only awareness of single use plastics in staff members will increase, but also in patients. Patients can play an important role in reducing single use plastics, especially around medications, particularly over ordering. We hope that the boxes will provide some education around single use plastics, not only their effect on the environment but also on human health. We have provided posters that surround the boxes explaining the negative impacts of plastic waste, such as hormone disruptions, food chain infiltration and toxins.

Annette Eatock, the Climate Resilience Waste Lead said: ‘This project with The Naturesave Trust to supply a range of recycling boxes to practices across Cornwall will dramatically increase the amount of waste that can be recycled such as PPE, medicinal packaging, and plastic. This is also encouraging both staff and patients to consider other positive actions they can take to address the wider climate and ecological emergency. This small step of recycling a few small items is an important part of the journey towards Greener Practice across the whole area, and progression in the GIfH Toolkit.’

The boxes are collected once they are filled, and the amount of waste will be measured. This waste is then melted down and made into new objects like chairs, tables and planters. We hope that the data collected will help us find solutions to reduce the amount of plastic use in Primary Care, and galvanise patients and PPGs to help contribute to these solutions.

Volunteer Cornwall is a registered charity which develops individuals and communities through voluntary action and is dedicated to building social capital and developing the wellbeing of individuals and communities in Cornwall. We do this by working in collaboration with a wide range of organisations to promote and support active citizenship and voluntary action covering the emotional, social, environmental, and economic needs and opportunities in Cornwall. The Primary Care Climate Resilience Programme works with Practices across Cornwall to adapt to and mitigate the climate crisis and advocate for their staff and patients.. You can learn more about their work here.