City Hospitals Sunderland is an Acute Trust providing a wide range of hospital services such as A&E, surgical and medical specialties, therapy services, maternity and paediatric care.

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation TrustEnsuring their clinical practice remains at the forefront of medicine, they were seeking to adopt innovative ways of working without compromising their strong performance results providing local communities with some of the highest quality healthcare in England. The contract covers the collection, transportation and final disposal of the domestic waste, including food waste, cardboard, paper and recycling waste which consists of mixed paper, card, plastics, magazines and cans.

Key Performance Indicators / Service Levels

  • Removal of waste on agreed days and at agreed times
  • Response times to requests of service
  • Additional or “on demand” collections of waste are carried out by the end of the next working day after the request was made
  • Cleanliness of storage areas for bins
  • Condition and image of containers supplied
  • Reports sent on agreed dates
  • Emergency call out within 3 hours
  • Maintain service level throughout inclement weather


When the contract commenced the Trust had no recycling in place, it was simply black bag waste collected twice per day. It was immediately evident that a lot of this waste was recyclable material. After an initial assessment period we reported the potential cost savings and increased recycling rates by implementing a mixed recycling service in addition to the twice daily general waste collections. At first it was met with anxiety as recycling had been tried before and “didn’t work”, however with strong partnership working we believe that any organisation can achieve high recycling rates.

O’Brien worked together with the Trust’s contract management team to highlight specific areas within the buildings that required internal DMR bins, we selected locations to maximise the chances of both staff and patients using the bins and also engaged with staff to educate them on the benefits of recycling. Posters and clear labelling on all bins assisted with the segregation of waste streams.

As expected, at first the material was not perfect and the volumes were not as high as hoped by the hospital contract managers, over time with regular awareness and reports the recycling rates started to improve.

Every ward now has a mixed recycling and general waste internal bin, the cleaners collect the general daily and the recycling when full, this waste is segregated in external bins and collected on separate vehicles. Within 3 months the general waste volumes dropped to the point that it only needs collected once each day. O’Brien have also helped Sunderland Hospital save further costs by segregating their offensive waste from the clinical into 40yd compactor and taking this direct to a designated disposal site.


O’Brien was awarded the original contract in March 2011 for 2 years with a 1 year extension. We successfully re-tendered for this contract at the end of 2013 with the new contract commencing in February 2014.

This contract has seen a dramatic cost reduction for the hospital whilst increasing their recycling performance, the cleaners were already employed to empty bins daily and with the mixed recycling now only being emptied when full this has resulted in the staff being deployed in other areas. O’Brien have also located 3 cardboard only containers across the sites resulting in a revenue stream for them.