Use reverse vending with medical waste

Colourful pill bottles at hospital

Barts Health NHS Trust were the first to develop a renal revending machine, based on a reverse vending machine, which allows renal staff to crush and help recycle all their empty virgin plastic bottles generated from patients’ renal dialysis.

Half a tonne of 6-litre renal waste bottles were being generated each month by Barts Health NHS Trust.



  • Compacts bottles that cannot be crushed flat in normal rubbish compactors
  • Saves money in lower waste transport costs
  • Meets waste handling regulations
  • Potential for earning revenue from plastic as all virgin and one material


  • Costs involved for the reverse vending machine, but estimated to be cost-neutral in one year
  • Does not tackle the use of the plastic in the first place
  • Income generation depends on the market for recycled plastic

Making a difference

Implented across two sites, the staff using these two machines have helped us recycle nearly 15 tonnes of virgin high-density polyethylene plastic per year.

There are hundreds of other ways to solve plastic pollution

Photo Credit: Joshua Coleman