Pioneering Northern Med Tech Firm Helps NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy Reduce Carbon Emissions by 95%

Smart MedTech company NeedleSmart is at the forefront of helping 15 NHS Foundation Trusts across the UK – including AlderHey in the North West and Newcastle Upon Tyne in the North East to radically reduce CO2 emissions in its clinical waste disposal by a staggering 95% as part of its Carbon Reduction Strategy, saving £10s of millions in clinical waste destruction.

NeedleSmart collaborates with the NHS, facilitated through the NHS Supply Chain innovation route, to drive a campaign to minimise single-use plastics and associated packaging. As of 1st April, and as part of the Government’s recycling policies, all plastic packaging must contain 30% recycled material or be subject to a levy of £200 per tonne.

The NeedleSmart technology is also part of an innovative programme to reduce and eradicate 100,000 needlestick injuries (NSI), which affect all healthcare workers across the NHS. This initiative alone will help save the NHS and its trusts more than £127 million each year.

NeedleSmart, based in the Liverpool city region, has designed and developed a range of products, including the NeedleSmart Pro (NS PRO), a world-first in safe needle destruction and disposal. The ground-breaking technology is being pioneered in a partnership with the Innovation Centre at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and piloted with several NHS trusts across England as part of the NHS’s carbon reduction and sustainability programme.

As of 5th January 2022, the global Covid-19 vaccinations programme had delivered 134 million vaccinations in the UK, 513 million in the US and 1.4 billion in India. In the UK alone, using the NeedleSmart technology purely in relation to the vaccination programme would have saved the NHS 15,132 tonnes of CO2 annually.

This is equivalent to:

  • 15,000 flights from London to New York
  • 66 million miles in a family car
  • 45,000 square metres of polar ice caps melting
  • 39,600 trees store atmospheric CO2 each year

NS PRO destroys a contaminated hypodermic needle in a sealed chamber in six seconds. The NeedleSmart device heats the needles inserted into the chamber to 1,300 degrees celsius, which will kill potentially harmful pathogens, viruses and bacteria adhering to the needle. Within seconds, the needle is compressed into a tiny cold ball and released from the NS PRO device as a safe sphere of metal at the tip of the syringe.

This safely destroys the needles, converting them into safe clinical waste and allowing for recycling. It hugely decreases clinical waste disposal and the huge carbon emissions associated with disposing of that clinical waste and its incineration. Previously, the entire needle would have had to be disposed of in a plastic sharps box, limiting how many intact needles could be disposed of.

The clinical waste can be split into two parts, with the molten metal ball part of the clinical waste recycled as safe waste and the plastics recycled into the system. This represents a huge advancement for the NHS ­– one of the UK’s biggest producers of carbon – in reducing its carbon emissions and recycling its clinical waste.

The NS PRO device can help the NHS save money and cut costs in several ways, including:

  • NSI costs each NHS trust  £500,000 each year and an estimated £127 million across England.
  • The NS PRO device will play a significant role in significantly reducing and eradicating the 100,000 NSIs every year.
  • NeedleSmart aims to offer the use of a 96% recycled cardboard clinical waste box (when NS PRO is used) as a viable alternative to the current single-use sharps bins.
  • The Government plans to add a plastic tax of 20% per tonne on single-use plastic packaging as of April this year, meaning the NS PRO and its clinical waste box presents a real reduction opportunity in this tax levy to the NHS.

NeedleSmart CEO and smart MedTech disruptor Cliff Kirby said: ‘By adopting the NS PRO device, the NHS will enjoy a whole host of efficiencies in cost-savings and reduction in carbon emissions and crucial safety aspects. Using the NS PRO to dispose of hypodermic needles safely can radically reduce the 100,000 needlestick injuries that occur each year to surgeons, doctors, clinical staff and hospital porters.’

‘But the even greater capability for reducing carbon emissions lies in the fact that using the technology means we can reduce the carbon emissions that the NHS produces by 95%. Using the NS PRO to safely dispose of the needles and put these into our biogenic cardboard disposal boxes has major savings. The use of the NS PRO offers substantial savings to the NHS and the environment.’

‘This means more clinical waste can be stored in each NS PRO disposal box, which reduces the number of trips to empty and dispose of clinical waste. It also reduces the single-use of plastics waste. It allows for more remarkable recycling of non-hazardous waste materials against the existing approach of incineration, which creates more emissions with carbon pollution. Finally, it reduces the carbon emissions of associated logistics – manufacture or disposal.’

‘As a UK SME, it is fantastic to work and collaborate with the NHS directly to drive forward innovations that will have a real and meaningful impact on climate change.’

NeedleSmart has recently achieved FDA approval as a Class II medical device, making it the first UK company to achieve FDA 510(k) approval (Class II for Sharps Needle Destruction Device (NDD)) and allowing the MedTech disruptor to expand into the US market and other global territories.

Managing director of Innovation at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Claire Liddy, said: ‘At Alder Hey, we have innovated for the past 100 years. We want to ensure that we are always standing at the leading edge of clinical innovation, sustainability and the green tech space.’

‘The technology presents many opportunities for us to reduce waste and carbon, which is a huge agenda for the NHS and Alder Hey as part of the NHS Carbon Reduction programme. We want to be a hospital that is pioneering in the space of green tech. We think the NHS has a long way to go in the clean, green agenda, but we see the relationship between Alder Hey and NeedleSmart as a great platform to achieve this as we work towards carbon net-zero.’

‘The partnership between Alder Hey Innovation Centre and NeedleSmart has a common purpose of innovating and disrupting. One of the biggest safety concerns for us across the NHS is needlestick injuries. So, we are excited to see how the technology can reduce those injuries and eliminate them.’

Alder Hey is widely recognised for its co-creation and adoption of new innovative technologies and boasts the largest hospital-based Innovation Centre in the UK, with 25+ full-time innovation experts working out of a 1,000 square-metre innovation hub in the heart of the hospital. Through this alliance, Alder Hey will work directly with NeedleSmart as it brings its multi-faceted hardware and software solutions to the healthcare markets.