How Care Homes Can Make Plastic-Free Changes

When it comes to single-use plastic, care for the elderly should mean care for the future. More and more care homes are scrutinising their plastic usage and waste with a view to injecting sustainability into their systems. Most importantly, this is a commitment to preservation of the environment. 

With a growing older population in the UK and clear environmental objectives taking hold, UK care homes are a focal point for sustainable change. As the trend towards greener practices within care homes gains momentum, it is becoming increasingly evident that even small changes have the potential to make a big impact.

The Trend Towards Green Change in Care Homes

Net Zero NHS and the COP26 Health Programme

Health systems account for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In response to this and the gravity of global environmental challenges, the NHS has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2040. It has also committed its network to achieving net zero status by 2045. It also aims to be the world’s first net zero health service. 

This undertaking forms part of the COP26 Health Programme, which ‘enables transformational change to protect the health of people and the planet.’ All four UK health services have united to respond to the issues of climate change from within their sector – a move they are making alongside 47 other nations to effect meaningful change. 

Indeed, the chatter around sustainability within the care sector is getting louder – spanning everything from building design and technology to energy, water, and waste. According to the Director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, David Pencheon, “Sustainability means more than merely lasting or surviving; it means delivering health care that uses resources in ways that don’t prejudice future health and wellbeing.” 

A UK Care Home Group Eliminates More Than 1 Million Pieces of Plastic By Reducing Their Use of Single-Use Plastics

Private care homes have joined the cause. For one South Coast care home group, it started with reducing the use of single-use plastics. Their location on the coast meant that this was a meaningful cause. However, this was just the start – and they have broadened their efforts to tackle their full carbon footprint. Their changed approach to plastic eliminated an estimated 365 000 plastic bin bags, 480 000 single-use plastic straws. In total, they estimate eliminating a total of more than a million pieces of plastic since the project started in 2018. 

Britain’s First Carbon Neutral Care Home

Additionally, a care home in Dorset has been called Britain’s first carbon neutral home, which is offsetting its environmental impact through a range of projects. One of their projects involves the reduction and, eventually, the total elimination of single-use plastics.

Compostable alternatives to single-use plastics from Bonnie Bio UK is helping care homes achieve sustainability aims

How To Move Away From Single-Use Plastic in Care Homes

Give Thought To Single-Use Plastics in Catering

Catering forms one of the top three causes of emissions in care homes. Care home catering supplies traditionally include single-use plastic straws, plastic cling wrap, plastic water cups, catering gloves, and the waste bin bags used to dispose of food and catering-related waste. In a step that’s almost an anomaly to the cause, the latest ban on single-use plastic straws in Britain includes care homes as one of its exemptions.

Bonnie Bio UK supplies internationally certified compostable plastic alternatives that are a match for the care home sector, with food contact certifications. Our compostable clingwrap offers the same durability and cling as plastic to preserve food for catering – without the rolls and rolls of waste to worry about. Bonnie Bio compostable bags are ideal for food scraps and waste. Our catering gloves are the perfect way to serve care homes – and the environment. Similarly, our compostable straws and compostable cutlery offer the same experience as plastic, decomposing into biomass, water, and carbon dioxide. All Bonnie Bio’s compostable products are toxin-free, vegan, and cruelty-free.

Face Masks, Gloves, and Medical Waste Bags

Face masks and gloves have always been invaluable healthcare tools. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, even more so. Face masks are mostly made from plastic-based materials. 7.2 million tonnes of medical waste are generated every day as a result of the pandemic. While this shows signs of slowing, face masks constitute the new normal – and remain essential for healthcare workers. 

Bonnie Bio UK is home to compostable, 3-ply face coverings that are a sustainable alternative to other disposable market varieties. Our compostable gloves are also a great fit as an alternative to plastic for healthcare workers to wear during their workdays.

Additionally, much waste generated in caregiving is disposed of into plastic waste bags. One way to reduce plastic waste in care homes is to use compostable waste bags, which are suitable for general waste, as well as sanitary and medical waste. 

Gardening

Landscaping and pristine gardens are a strong marketable point for care homes. The maintenance of gardens can be a plastic-intensive exercise – with bags upon plastic bags of leaf matter and garden refuse making their way into the environment. Disposing of garden refuse in compostable waste bags is the environmentally kind answer that resonates with nature-lovers.

General Waste

The green initiatives of care homes are not only important to residents. They appeal to workforce values too. The move to plastic alternatives is a start that matters for many green-minded people. This is simply achieved by switching out plastic waste bin bags with compostable alternatives and looking to replace canteen plastics with compostable products in an effort to reduce waste. 

 

Other Areas to Achieve Environmental Sustainability in Care Homes

Here are other focal points for the move to more sustainable care homes:

  • Reducing energy consumption and moving towards renewable energy sources
  • Reducing water consumption
  • Changing to low-energy lighting and investing in light sensors to avoid waste
  • Smart buildings are becoming useful to transformation in the care home space. Smart technologies provide actionable data for strategic decision-making and encourage automation

 

The Benefits of Sustainability Systems in Care Homes

The most important benefit to green transformation in care homes is the good it does for the environment. Additionally, care homes can enjoy the following benefits:

  • The alignment of your workplace practices with your employees’ environmental values. Millennials are particularly environmentally focused and their job satisfaction is linked to shared value systems with employers. By making environmentally sustainable changes, you are working towards increased staff retention, workplace satisfaction, and appeal to a young and skilled workforce.
  • Growing awareness around environmental issues make green changes a strong marketable point. 
  • Shifting environmental regulations create a clear roadmap for the future. Without question, operations of the future are going to be plastic-free. By implementing these changes in advance, you’re both ahead of the curve and with competitive advantage. 

 

Make the Change to Compostable Plastic Alternatives in Care Homes

Recyclable, bioplastic, degradable, and biodegradable alternatives to plastics are riddled with shortcomings. When it comes to green transformation, compostable products are the ideal for green-minded operations. Contact the team at Bonnie Bio UK to discuss your needs and let’s work together to create green care homes of the future.