It is time to replace single-use medical textiles with sustainable alternatives

Charlie Preece discusses Revolution-ZERO’s mission to displace the global single-use PPE and medical textiles market with more effective, economic and sustainable alternatives

Over the last few decades, increasing single-use dependence for medical textiles has created supply chains that do not stand up to stressors, such as pandemics and war, combined with high environmental and monetary costs.

Eradicating single-use medical textiles utilised in the NHS

With 88,000 tonnes of single-use medical device textiles utilised by the NHS annually (derived from their mission is no mean feat, but one they have made huge strides in since their first reusable mask trial with NHS England stakeholders in the summer of 2020.

In 2021 Revolution-ZERO delivered, in partnership with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, the world’s first in hospital clinical rollout of certified reusable fluid resistant surgical masks. Over the 12 months ending 31 March 2022 their initiatives have displaced more than 3 million single-use items and saved more than 36,000 kilograms in CO2e emissions. Revolution-ZERO revenues have also been used to fund the restoration and preservation of carbon capturing and biodiverse seagrass ecosystems.

The aspirations for Zero Waste and Zero Carbon targets to be met by Revolution-ZERO is through the utilisation of a carefully engineered circular economy system design (see diagram below). The aim is for resources to be continuously cycled in a controlled and increasingly efficient manner. All services offer highly adaptable and readily tailored solutions. Revolution-ZERO’s total system offering means they can cover all aspects of product, service, logistics and technical support. This allows both transferability and scalability across the NHS and a wide range of other sectors and regions.

Revolution-ZERO projects and partnerships with the NHS and beyond

Revolution-ZERO in partnership with NHS stakeholders continues to develop reusable medical textile solutions which are more effective, economic and environmentally sustainable that their single-use counterparts. Their work is focused on empowering health systems to have increased control over supply chain, quality, cost and the environmental impact of medical textiles.

Revolution-ZERO have been working onsite with Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS, supported by SBRI Healthcare, a programme funded by Accelerated Access Collaborative, and the Greener NHS Programme. This work is displacing single use medical textiles in orthopaedic operating theatres with customised, reusable and circular economy Revolution-ZERO alternatives.

The SBRI Healthcare funded project is actively addressing decades of reliance on the single-use model within the NHS and health systems globally where there are product, infrastructure, logistics, procurement, culture and workflow challenges to overcome. For this work the Revolution-ZERO team have been working with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals, Royal Devon Universities, Sandwell and West Birmingham, Cardiff and Vale and Highland NHS Trusts and Boards along with the University of Exeter and University College London, Anze Ltd and other suppliers.

They have been developing the systems and demonstrating the feasi- bility of replacing single-use textiles in operating theatre environments. They are now planning for a larger scale rollout over four orthopaedic operating theatres utilising their state-of- the-art ZERO-DECON net zero focused decontamination and sterilisation hub.

Significant projects pushing for a greener medical industry

Complementing this work are multiple other transformative projects across the NHS including the recent delivery of four exciting projects through the NHS Wales Shared Services Partner- ship including:

  1. Reusable surgical theatre textiles demonstrated during major colorectal surgery. This utilised highest quality UK made and customised gowns, drapes and other surgical textiles with local decontamination and sterilisation to 2022 standards. This model gives increased control over supply chain, operations, monetary and environmental costs;
  2. Establishing the commercial and environmental feasibility through co-design of reusable Type IIR Surgical Masks (FRSM) within NHS environments in Wales;
  3. The specification and implementation plans for the ZERO-DECON modular decontamination units which can be rapidly built and operational offering local employment and industrial growth with high potential for further innovation and value add over time;
  4. The NHS Circular Textiles Net Zero Road Map for Wales to 2030 delivered in partnership with the University of Exeter Circular Economy Hub. This built on and integrated findings from the other three projects; establishing targets to deliver environmental, social and economic sustainability benefits. At the centre of this was the Revolution-ZERO circular systems design focusing on multiple cycle of reuse followed by repurposing and eventually recycling into medical textiles or other products.

medical textiles, sustainable

Measurable impact is key to the Revolution-ZERO journey to Net Zero by 2030 with the focus on circular medical textiles. Revolution-ZERO is enaging widely at national and international level with several organisations including the World Health Organisation, World Bank (IMF) and Médecins sans Frontières.

The environmental impact of 2022 and beyond

In the first three months of 2022, Revolution-ZERO doubled their 2021 environmental impact savings. They are well on course to exceed their 2022 targets of reducing 120,000 kg of emissions along with the displacement of 10 million single use medical textile items.

Revolution-ZERO recognise the huge opportunity to make a significant impact to our future. They are creating and driving national, regional, provider and supplier partnerships to enable them to offer products, services, logistics and technical solutions as part of their total systems approach.

The ongoing and future success for Revolution-ZERO is much needed to realise optimum sustainability within the healthcare medical textiles sector. Close partnerships and collaborations with shared positive outcomes will continue to be critical for the realisation of Revolution-ZERO’s vision. To join them on their journey please get in touch below.


Please note: This is a commercial profile

© 2019. This work is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND.

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Partnerships Director
Revolution-Zero, Rutherford Research Limited
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