In 2018, Hywel Dda University Health Board began exploring ways to save money and resources with a particular interest in recognising when equipment could be re-used rather than replaced.
After looking at our options, we decided to partner with Warp It – an online tool which serves as a clearing house of assets for re-use within, and across, organisations to promote and enable the circulation of equipment, reducing spend and avoiding waste.
The way Warp It works is by enabling users to upload information about their own surplus assets and search the system to see if anyone else has things that they need. The most common items exchanged on the site include everything from stationery and storage to desks, chairs, and non-electrical medical equipment. It’s a swift process with most assets claimed within 10 days of being listed, which frees up valuable storage space and minimises waiting times for recipients.
One of the added benefits of the system is that users can also access data showing the number and type of transactions being delivered across their organisation, and in addition, the economic, carbon and waste savings achieved.
For Hywel Dda, the difference has been notable since working with the platform. We know that we have made savings of £278,000; diverted 41 tonnes of waste from landfill; and repurposed or donated £106,000 worth of unwanted equipment to other organisations or charities.
Approximately 1,000 people at the health board are now registered users of the Warp It and our intention is to see more and more people come on board with the initiative as we continue the drive for profound and long-lasting behaviour change. This is in line with the goals and values set out in Beyond Recycling and the NHS Wales Strategic Decarbonisation Plan.
Another plus that comes from the process is the collaboration with the third sector, which not only delivers added community benefit but also supports the local economy through the creation of new jobs in repair and refurbishment. One of the most rewarding outcomes is also being able to donate items to charities both in the UK and overseas, which helps those who have very little, or sometimes nothing at all.
The reality is sustainable procurement must be the way forward for the public sector if we are going to play our own part in creating a circular economy and a low-carbon Wales. Warp It is a great way of doing this effectively, efficiently – and most importantly, immediately.
Prior to starting, you need real sign up from senior managers so that the message can cascade down the line. Head of departments need to be on board and nominate departmental champions who are focused on and fight for the cause in their area. They are also going to be the people who can explain to everyone else what the benefits are – you need those people on the ground who will make it happen for you.
Communicate – use all the platforms you can to communicate so that you can tell people what you are doing and the benefits you are seeing. This is how word gets round and people start thinking differently.
Also, think outside the box – or in this case the skip! It’s understandable that people are set in their ways and are just used to doing things the way they’ve always done them, but that’s not where the magic happens. You’ve got to be ready for the challenge of trying to get people to buy in to something new, and that’s not always straightforward.
Lastly, however big the challenges appear to be, the reward will be greater. When you get the data, seeing the difference you made, or seeing how something that is do-able can help charities so much, then it’s definitely worthwhile, so stay positive!