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Kent veterinary group, Pennard Vets, are the UK's first practices to recycle surgical equipment

A Kent vet has become one of the first practices in the UK to start recycling surgical equipment.

Pennard Vets, which has practices across the county, has launched a range of recycling initiatives so items such as aprons, face masks, needle caps, blister packs and plastic syringes can be recycled instead of sent to landfill.

Left to right is Elaine Biggs and Beth Kirwan from Pennard Vets
Left to right is Elaine Biggs and Beth Kirwan from Pennard Vets

The company is also working with pet food suppliers, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and recycling giant, TerraCycle.

Dog and cat owners can take empty rinsed out packaging to the practices in Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Maidstone and they will be recycled.

Thanks to its success the employee-owned veterinary group, is now planning to expand the scheme into its other Kent practices, in Allington, Borough Green, Langley Park and West Malling.

Beth Kirwan, head veterinary nurse at the Sevenoaks practice, said: “Historically the veterinary industry has produced more than its fair share of waste, so we’re working hard to reduce our impact on the environment.

"This has been accelerated by us becoming employee-owned, which means our entire team are now even more empowered to put forward ideas and drive change through the business.

Recycling box for medicine packaging
Recycling box for medicine packaging

"We already have weekly collections of cardboard, tins, drip bags and tubing, but we wanted to do more to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill or being incinerated."

Pet food packaging uses special materials, to keep food fresh for extended periods and prevent leaks, however, this means it can’t be recycled in domestic bins.

Beth added: "Previously we were taking Hill’s food pouches to specialist recycling points, but introducing our own collection bins is dramatically increasing the amount of waste we can recycle.

"It’s already proving popular with local pet owners.

"We’re also excited to now be in a position to start recycling clinical clothing and equipment, that don’t contain blood, medicines or biological contaminants.

Alkis working in washable hat and gown
Alkis working in washable hat and gown

"This gives us a big opportunity to significantly reduce our environmental impact further.

"Hopefully the industry will see that changes like these at individual practices will all combine to make a big difference.”

In recent years, Pennard Vets has launched a wide range of other initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.

These include installing energy efficient LED lighting with motion sensors, investing in oxygen generators to eradicate deliveries of oxygen cylinders, replacing plastic bags with paper or tote bags, as well as investing in large load washing machines and eco-friendly drying facilities.

For more information click here.

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