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By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | January 24th, 2023


Photos: BCRM staff with 10 days’ worth of re-cycling; ‘Blastocyst’ by  Jen Nisbett & Corrina Gibbons

Staff at Bristol’s longest-established fertility clinic are pooling their waste resources to create a valuable regular contribution to Bristol Children’s Scrapstore – and avoiding excess items going to landfill at the same time.

The new green initiative at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM) reflects the shared desire of the team to reduce some of the negative impacts that the healthcare sector has on the planet.

Senior andrologist Karla Turner who is spearheading the ‘Go Green’ campaign said: “Colleagues at the clinic have begun to normalise a more sustainable way of thinking, and the whole team is reviewing day-to-day processes to see where it’s possible to prevent, reduce or reuse items.

“We appreciate that recycling is not the greenest way ahead: the very best option is waste reduction – simple things like using our own coffee mugs at the dispenser, instead of recyclable cups.

“Although we are obliged to dispose of most of the clinic’s scrap items as clinical waste, we have identified several areas where we can reduce our contribution to landfill.

“We started off by collecting 10 days’ worth of non-recyclable items that would all have ended up in landfill – polystyrene delivery boxes and cold packs, pipette tip boxes, laboratory needle packaging and the metal rods that form part of the devices used to freeze embryos – and were astonished by how much there was.

“So a very important move has been to forge links with the amazing team at Bristol Children’s Scrapstore who have said they can find a good creative use for the items we are discarding.

“We’re also going to be sending the Scrapstore the fairly large cardboard tubes that the paper we use to line our exam couches are wrapped around – I’m sure they’ll be much in demand for modelling of various sorts.”

Two of Karla’s colleagues, Jen Nisbett and Corrina Gibbons, have created a piece of craft-work herself (pictured) entitled ‘Blastocyst’, featuring rubber bungs and the tubes in which needles for laboratory work are delivered. A blastocyst is the cluster of dividing cells formed about five to six days after a sperm fertilizes an egg.

The BCRM team is also investigating other ways to lessen their impact on the environment: for example, using items with less packaging where choices are available, turning off pieces of equipment when not in use, and being more mindful of waste management.

“In the New Year we’re also planning a change to lab processes that will prevent the use of around 2,000 plastic pipettes annually,” said Karla Turner.

“But there are some areas of our work, especially in the embryology lab, where delicate items arrive packaged in single-use plastics or polystyrene boxes, so generating a certain amount of waste packaging material seems to be unavoidable and it’s great to see it put to good use through the Scrapstore.”

BCRM www.fertilitybristol.com is the longest established fertility clinic in Bristol, helping people from throughout the South West and Wales with fertility treatment for both private and NHS patients. The clinic is involved in innovative research and has one of the best success rates with IVF and other fertility treatments in the UK.