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A project in our Circular Safe Hospital reserach theme has been awarded €5 million by the ‘Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek’ (NWO). This funding will enable our researchers to develop circular strategies aimed at minimizing the usage of disposable products in hospitals. EWUU researchers obtained the grant together with a consortium of Erasmus Medical Centre, TU Delft and RSM. Erasmus MC is taking the lead in this research project.

CO2 footprint of the healthcare sector

The healthcare sector accounts for 7% of the Netherlands’ CO2 footprint. Hospitals frequently use disposable products, such as gloves, syringes, infusion bags and catheters. The current policy results in the incineration of hospital waste, with no value recovery of the raw materials used. Moreover, many unopened, original containers are thrown away due to strict infection prevention protocols. Given the current climate and materials crisis, there is an urgent need for a different approach to the use of disposables in hospitals.

The Dutch government’s ‘Green Deal Duurzame Zorg 3.0’ has outlined its vision for a circular and sustainable healthcare system, with the ambitious objective of achieving climate-neutrality and 100% circularity by 2050. In line with this initiative, the research project strives to decrease the reliance on disposable products within hospitals while advocating for circular and future-proof practices.

Research Objectives

The research project has a primary objective of identifying the obstacles and opportunities for implementing circular practices within hospitals. Building upon this objective, the research group aims to devise tangible and evidence-based interventions. These interventions will focus on enhancing the sustainability of disposable products, minimizing their usage, creating educational resources, and fostering behavioural changes in healthcare settings.

Peter Blankestijn, a member of the Circular Society steering committee and responsible for the Circular Hospital theme, is very happy with the grant. “It shows that we – the EWUU alliance, Erasmus MC and the other partners – want to take responsibility for making healthcare more sustainable. And that we will work together with knowledge institutions and the industry to develop concrete and scalable solutions that bring a circular hospital one step closer.”

Important role of EWUU alliance

Both EWUU and a consortium consisting out of Erasmus MC, TU Delft, and Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management, initially submitted separate preliminary applications for the grant. However, recognizing the overlap in their proposals, they made the collaborative decision to merge their efforts and work on a joint proposal. This collaborative endeavour involved researchers from all participating institutions, as well as healthcare professionals from UMC Utrecht, with dedicated support from the Circular Safe Hospitals team.

Involved researchers: Myriam Cloodt (TU/e), Vikrant Sihag (TU/e), Duygu Keskin (TU/e), Bas van Vliet (WUR), Wei Shan Chen (WUR), Laura Piscicelli (UU), Ellen Moors (UU), Jelle Ruurda (UMC Utrecht), Redmer van Leeuwen (UMC Utrecht), Petra Dijkman (UMC Utrecht), Sacha Tensen (UMC Utrecht)