South Wales company, Thermal Compaction Group is celebrating a landmark award for its business and revolutionary Sterimelt recycling machine.
Thermal Compaction Group won the South Wales Chamber of Commerce Welsh Business Awards Success Through Innovation trophy last Thursday at a glittering ceremony at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.
After years of research and development and trials at Newport’s St Woolos Hospital, TCG can now roll out their award-winning innovation across Wales and the UK before developing global export channels.
TCG, who are based in Cardiff, were against stiff opposition for the Success Through Innovation award, and Thomas Davison-Sebry, TCG’s marketing and sales director, said this win was the ‘cherry on the cake’ for the company.
“It was an incredible and emotional feeling after the years of commitment and perseverance in bringing this project to market.
“It would appear we ticked all the boxes in terms of its innovative approach to solving an ever increasing cost issue and allowing a waste that would either be landfilled or incinerated.
“By using our technology, a waste stream is turned back into a reusable commodity, which in turn will save the NHS and private healthcare substantial amounts of money going forward.”
The Sterimelt recycling machine turns clinical sterilisation wrap, used in NHS operating theatres in various forms, into a solid polypropylene block which can then be sold by the NHS to recycling partners. The blocks can be made into anything from chairs to water danger signs.
The machine underwent extensive trials by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board at its St Woolos Hospital facility in Newport, Gwent, for a year. The trials were a great success, leading to the University Health Board and TCG completing a deal to go live with the machine.
TCG also received significant non financial support from The Bevan Commission which supports innovative Welsh NHS projects.
“Prior to reaching an agreement with the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, we had spent several years developing the technology in order to treat the clinical sterilisation wrap.
“This work has involved many different companies and people from different industries across the globe. We have a lot to thank Styromelt for, (the sister company to Sterimelt).
“This is where the idea of thermally compacting the clinical sterilisation wrap came from, a process similar to what the Styromelt machine does with polystyrene (E.P.S.). The Sterimelt had a lot more work on the technical side as we needed to add in significantly more modifications which we learned along the way through continuous testing and trialling of the process.
“The Sterimelt now has a chiller attached, and an improved air purification system to take out the resin and collect it from the process, whilst producing a fully saleable solid briquette of polypropylene.
“Modifications have mainly been carried out by Paul Davies, our Technical Director, who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes at Thermal Compaction Group.
“As a result of the ongoing trials and testing, we have fine tuned the equipment to such an extent it is fully ready for commercialisation and can be operated and monitored remotely with the use of telemetry.
“The accolade from being associated with the South Wales Chamber of Commerce Welsh Business Awards is a credit on its own, but winning was the cherry on the top.
“The Environmental team at ABUHB have been the source of immense support. They have embraced the project and gave us the opportunity to run the Sterimelt in a live working operation.
“This gave us the chance to iron out and tweek the machine to its natural operational mode. Other parts of ABUHB, namely the Hospital Sterilisation and Decontamination Department also got on board and further supported its inclusion in the recycling process.
“Also the chance to join with the team and present to a “Dragons Den” scenario to be accepted as Bevan Exemplars with The Wales Bevan Commission was another huge step forward.
“The support from the Bevan Commission has been helpful to the hospital in assisting with their funding in respect to training their personnel and familiarising their staff in adapting to carrying out new procedures. This will ultimately result in them saving hundreds of thousands of pounds in respect to their waste management costs.”
Going forward, the future is looking extremely bright for TCG. Thomas said:
“We were given the opportunity to present the project to the environmental managers of all the Welsh Trusts at their recent quarterly forum.
“We also presented at the Chartered Institute of Waste Management HQ in Northampton to senior sustainability personnel and industry colleagues from England, Scotland and Wales.
“We have been extended an invitation to attend the second annual Hospital Innovations Exhibition and Conference at Olympia in April, where our NHS partners, ABUHB, have also been invited to present our project to the conference alongside keynote speaker, Lord Carter.
“We are looking to roll our Sterimelt machine out across Wales initially, then look at the rest of the UK and become established on home soil, whilst considering the opportunities for exporting worldwide.
“We believe the SWCC Business award will fast track a lot of this and will be using the opportunity presented to us to ensure we capitalise on this success.”
TCG also have a huge presence on social media and a downloadable mobile app.