5.3 million granted to research on circularity in hospitals

News - 01 August 2023 - Webredactie

A consortium of Dutch hospitals and universities has been granted 5.3 million euros by the Dutch National Science Agenda (NWA). The goal is to make hospitals more sustainable and future-proof.

The healthcare sector is responsible for 7 percent of the CO2 footprint of the Netherlands. Because of this, the Dutch government has called for more sustainable healthcare (Green Deal Duurzame Zorg 3.0). 

The Evidence-based Strategies to create Circular Hospitals: Applying the 10-Rs framework to healthcare (ESCH-R) project rises to this challenge with the mission to accelerate the adoption of circular interventions in hospitals and reduce the environmental impact of healthcare. The research question is: How can hospitals move away from single use medical consumables to make the transition towards circularity?

Together with social partners, the interdisciplinary research team will develop strategies that are circular, safe and scalable. In the long term, ESCH-R should contribute to making healthcare sustainable and future-proof.

The consortium comprises several universities, research centres and social partners, and is led by Dr. Nicole Hunfeld, from Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. 

Saba Hinrichs-Krapels and Willem Auping from TU Delft are co-applicants in this consortium and their role is look at whole systems change. What are the policy and governance factors that will allow circular interventions to be adopted and scaled up?

Hinrichs-Krapels: “The project follows the full cycle of a device/consumable and therefore needs a whole system approach and multi-sector involvement. Think of the gloves that are used in hospitals: How are they packaged and what can we do for the way they are packaged? (designers) How are they purchased and can we give people incentives to buy them differently? (hospital procurement) Or maybe we can adapt the way they are used or recycled? (hospital staff). Once we have potential solutions and interventions, it leaves us with a final question: What are the wider policy and system components that need to adapt to enable all of this to happen? That’s where we come in.”

The grant signifies an acknowledgement of the importance of the subject. The CO2 emissions in the healthcare sector have to be reduced. The ESCH-R project is going to be a frontrunner and take important steps towards a circular future.

Hinrichs-Krapels: “I’m delighted to co-lead a work package in this consortium. It feels like we have it all, from industry partners, to healthcare organisations, and even co-design living labs. It would not be possible to tackle such a complex socio-technical challenge without these diverse experts involved. Last year, we wrote an article about why we need such a multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to circularity – now is our chance to practice what we preached!

Read the NWO press release of for more information.