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Making Endoscopy Greener - Guest article
21 June 2022

Leigh Donnelly

Climate change is affecting all of us and it is thankfully high on the NHS agenda with the aim to reach net zero by 2040, and an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2028 to 2032. Endoscopy is the third highest waste producing department in the NHS due to decontamination processes and high waste streams.

As a specialty, endoscopy teams can do something about this and work together to make small changes which will have significant impact. Becoming a more sustainable endoscopy unit is a challenge but with support from all endoscopy users it is achievable.

So where to start?

Identify the “low hanging fruit”: these are the small immediate changes that can be made. Firstly, appoint a “Green Champion” or a “Green Team”. These are motivated and enthusiastic people who can help implement changes on a grass roots level. This team is integral to becoming a greener endoscopy unit.

Waste segregation is another quick win, by educating teams and making sure each waste is disposed of in the most appropriate manner. Each hospital has different recycling arrangements so contact the waste management team in the first instance, however, make more use of the domestic waste streams - having a domestic waste bin in each endoscopy room can reduce the amount of rubbish which is put into clinical waste.

Examples of some items suitable for domestic waste (recycling not available) include:

  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Food waste
  • All types of clean packaging including instrument packaging
  • Glove boxes
  • Drug boxes
  • Lubrication tubes/packaging
  • Plastic ampules
  • Water bottles

Of course, many of those items listed above could also be recycled depending on local policy and protocol.

Changes can also be made in lots of other ways, for example, at the morning huddle have a discussion to plan equipment to reduce the number of accessories opened, engage team members for their suggestions or explore literature and research for other suggestions.

Sometimes the smallest changes have the biggest gains. Through sharing ideas and networking together as a speciality we can aim to have a much more sustainable and greener endoscopy.


For more resources on sustainability in endoscopy, please see our Green Endoscopy page.

Thanks to Leigh Donnelly, Training and Development Lead for Endoscopy at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for taking the time to write for us.


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