Protecting healthcare heroes
Courageous Renewi colleagues supported health workers battling to save lives in the Covid-19 crisis by delivering protective face-masks to hospitals. Despite the dangers, our people stayed calm and professional as they collected used masks from hospitals and nursing homes in the Netherlands, and took them to a sterilisation centre to be made safe again. Renewi truck teams delivered thousands of sterilised masks back to medical centres every day.
The operation was a collaboration between Renewi and medical equipment supplier Van Straten Medical/GreenCycl, which manufactures, repairs and sterilises surgical instruments. Our Commercial Waste Division set up the transportation operation in April 2020, to tackle the shortage of face-masks following the Covid-19 outbreak. Renewi logistics colleagues followed strict safety procedures when collecting and handling the masks, to ensure no risk of infection with Covid-19.
The teams collected containers of used masks and took them to the Van Straten Medical/GreenCycl facility in De Meern-Utrecht for sterilisation. There the company has a capacity to handle 48,000 masks a day, sterilising them at 121°C to deactivate any virus present. This method follows tests by the Delft University of Technology on the benefits of mask sterilisation.
Renewi’s support demonstrates our pledge to care for people as part of our sustainability strategy. Recycling masks, instead of sending them for medical incineration, is also an excellent example of collaboration between partners who share the same ambition – to increase circularity and reduce carbon emissions: Van Straten/GreenCycl refurbishes medical instruments, and they are also leased out. This reduces the need to make more instruments, and so decreases the carbon footprint associated with industrial production. Data collected from the face-mask operation is also being used for sustainability research.