Bupa’s Cromwell Hospital are leading the way in preventing pollution from waste volatile anaesthetic gases, having purchased innovative capture and recycling technology from SageTech Medical.
Inhalational anaesthetic gases are vital for putting patients to sleep for operations, but they come with a cost to the environment. Approximately 95% of the volatile anaesthetic used during a procedure is released into the atmosphere as highly polluting waste gas1.
Preventing the release and environmental pollution caused by anaesthetic gases is a priority for Bupa under its Scope 1 carbon emissions reduction target.
“Sustainability is at the heart of Bupa’s purpose. We know that the health of the planet and people’s health are intertwined and it’s essential we’re looking after both. To do this, we need innovative solutions to the sustainability challenges we face, and our purchase of SageTech Medical’s system is a good example of the steps we’re taking to become Net Zero.”
– Sarah Melia, General Manager Health Services, Bupa UK.
Cromwell Hospital has become the first private hospital in the UK to buy SageTech Medical’s innovative gas capture and recycling solution. In September 2023, SageTech Medical signed a five-year contract with Cromwell Hospital to prevent the release of over 160 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (t/CO2e) each year across its operating theatre complex, which is the same as driving 720,000 miles in a UK petrol car2.
“With the signing of this contract, Bupa are continuing to lead the healthcare sector in the field of sustainable anaesthesia by prioritising the critical protection of our planet through focusing on preventing pollution from these vital yet environmentally harmful anaesthetic gases.”
– Luke Rawlinson, Head of Commercial at SageTech Medical.
The manufacture of virgin anaesthetic agents and their release as potent greenhouse gases are highly damaging to the environment and contributes significantly to the carbon footprint of healthcare. During an operation, only 5% of volatile anaesthetic agents are absorbed and metabolised by the patient, leaving 95% to be exhaled and released into the atmosphere as waste.
Once exhaled into the atmosphere, waste volatile anaesthetics stay around for a long time and subsequently have high global warming potentials. These gases cause climate change by trapping heat. Over a 20-year period (GWP20), volatile anaesthetic gases sevoflurane, isoflurane and desflurane have an impact of 508, 1401 and 3,714 times that of carbon dioxide, respectively3. This equates to around 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions each year in the UK alone4, 5, 6.
The adoption of SageTech Medical’s solution was made possible through Bupa’s eco-Disruptive programme, which sees employees partner with sustainability start-ups to tackle environmental challenges. In January 2023, SageTech Medical was announced as 1 of 6 global finalists in the programme, which aimed to find and support sustainable, scalable start-ups and innovative solutions that will improve people’s health and the health of the planet. SageTech Medical was chosen from over 250 sustainable technology start-ups worldwide, which accelerated urgent action by Bupa to address the waste anaesthetic pollution at Bupa’s Cromwell Hospital in London. The partnership between SageTech Medical and Cromwell Hospital was then solidified with a successful two month trial earlier this year.
“It’s wonderful to see this partnership between Cromwell Hospital and SageTech Medical grow after such a successful trial. It’s imperative that we’re taking these steps to reduce our carbon footprint and recycling anaesthetic waste gases is an essential part of this. We want to drive innovation and sustainability in healthcare for better outcomes for people and planet health. Working with start-ups allows us to access new solutions that will make healthcare better, while helping us to continue working towards our sustainability targets.”
– Anna Russell, Sustainability Director for Bupa Global & UK.
SageTech Medical has developed a safe, sustainable and easy to use circular economy solution to tackle the problem of pollution from waste volatile anaesthetic gases. The circular economy solution captures these waste anaesthetic agents and then recycles them back into reusable anaesthetic, helping to reduce hospitals’ carbon footprint and preserve precious raw materials used in virgin anaesthetic agent manufacture.
The solution works by capturing the waste anaesthetic agent breathed out by a patient during an operation by safely adsorbing it onto a specially developed filter contained inside a reusable SID-Can capture canister. Two SID-Can filters are housed inside a SID-Dock capture machine that integrates simply and safely into hospital operating theatres, without having to make changes to any existing equipment.
When full, the SID-Cans are collected from the hospital and emptied at regional SID-Hub facilities before being returned to hospitals for reuse. The recovered waste anaesthetic is then recycled, ready to be used again by hospitals. The waste volatile anaesthetic can be repeatedly recycled and reused, therefore reducing the significant burden associated with virgin drug manufacture and completing the circular economy solution developed by SageTech Medical.
“Clinicians are becoming more and more aware about the impact their clinical practice is having on the environment. Using SageTech Medical’s solution, we can help reduce the carbon footprint of anaesthesia and give patients a greener choice for their healthcare. We’re really excited to be implementing this ground-breaking technology at Cromwell Hospital.”
– Mehnuhlik Lynch, Anaesthetic Team Leader and Theatre Projects Transformation Lead at Cromwell Hospital.
SageTech Medical’s innovative capture technology will be deployed across the theatre complex capturing the waste anaesthetic gas sevoflurane which is the dominant anaesthetic gas in use globally and has an environmental impact in of 508 times (GWP20) that of carbon dioxide. This commitment to SageTech Medical’s market leading solution provides a replicable approach for hospitals to adopt a plug and play solution to solve the global problem of waste anaesthetic gases.
“We’re delighted that Cromwell Hospital have signed a five-year contract with us to help advance their sustainability agenda and provide our pioneering SID-Dock device into their theatres. The device makes a huge difference to their carbon emissions and the amount of waste anaesthetic gases being released into the atmosphere. We’re so pleased to be continuing our work with Bupa.”
– Iain Menneer, CEO of SageTech Medical.
Currently, there is an unmet, time critical need to reduce the impact of waste volatile anaesthetic agents on the atmosphere to protect our environment for future generations. By preventing these agents from polluting the atmosphere and reducing the raw material associated with their virgin manufacture, SageTech Medical are proud to be leading the way in sustainable anaesthesia and providing hospitals and clinics with a straightforward solution to enable them to make a real difference to their carbon footprint and our planet.
- National Library of Medicine / Environmental and Occupational Considerations of Anesthesia: A Narrative Review and Update
- Tred / What is 1kg of CO2 equal to?
- Sci.Technol. 2021,55, 10189-10191
- The Lancet / Health care’s response to climate change: a carbon footprint assessment of the NHS in England
- NHS England / Putting anaesthetic-generated emissions to bed
- RCoA / Sustainability: Intravenous and local anaesthetic agents