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Welsh Health Sector Recycling Specialist Secures £400k Innovate UK Grant

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The Cardiff-based Thermal Compaction Group (TCG) has been awarded £426k by Innovate UK to develop its pioneering work in the recycling of medical waste material which can generate income for the NHS.

The award was made through Innovate UK Open Call competition and the £426k is 70% funded by Innovate UK, with 30% invested by TCG.

TCG has already won numerous awards for its work to divert polypropylene patient transfer sheets and single-use sterilisation wraps, used for surgical instruments in millions of operations in hospitals across the UK every year, from landfill. The company then uses the materials to create new products with a commercial value.

This latest grant will be used to build a prototype machine to handle contaminated and uncontaminated ward, bed and cubicle curtains made of single use disposable polypropylene plastic, all heavily used in the NHS and UK healthcare sector. The new ‘Curtain Melt’ machine will be able to volumetrically densify these heavy curtains into manageable blocks that can be sold back into the UK plastic re-processing supply chain.

TCG Director, the entrepreneur Thomas Davison-Sebry said:

“We’ve had great success so far in  recycling patient transfer sheets and wrapping for surgical instruments, now with this latest support we can prevent even more single use NHS plastics from entering landfills or incineration, in line with Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations Act, and actually generate income for the UK healthcare sector.”

The newly designed machine will re-engineer the manufacturing process of the plastic curtains using heat to turn them into blocks, saving the NHS on landfill fees and transport costs for uncontaminated plastic, and from the clinical incineration of contaminated curtains. TCG are introducing spore strip testing using biological test indicators to demonstrate sterility, and show that contaminated material has been rendered safe for both operators and their environments through the thermal process. It is hoped the technology will be rolled out worldwide once it has been successfully trialled in the UK.

TCG’s Sterimelt technology is currently being used across the UK to create inert, sterilised, briquettes which can be sold on to produce the likes of garden furniture, fences, buckets, plant pots, ropes and chairs.