This year’s National Recycle Week (17-23 October) will be marked in Greater Manchester with a new push to return, reuse and recycle walking aids such as walking sticks, frames or crutches.

This initiative is part of the city region’s vision to be carbon neutral by 2038 and will also help to protect NHS resources at a challenging time.

Members of the public can now access more than 20 drop off locations across the city-region – including household waste recycling centres and NHS hospitals. Residents can find their nearest or most convenient site by typing their postcode into the Recycle Now online locator form, provided by national environmental charity WRAP. Thanks to a new partnership between the NHS and Recycle for Greater Manchester (R4GM), it’s now even easier to return walking aids – and without a trip back to the hospital.

Lesley Hadley, chief allied health professional at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and chair of the Greater Manchester Allied Health Professions Council, said: “Fortunately, many of our patients only require walking aids for a short period of time but this can mean they end up lying unused at home, long after they have served their purpose. Returned items will be checked, cleaned, and refurbished where possible so they can be used by another patient. This will help to improve access for patients, save money for the NHS and reduce carbon emissions.”

It’s estimated that each hospital in Greater Manchester could save up to £46,000 a year and carbon emissions equivalent to driving around the M60 motorway 157 times, if just 40% of walking aids currently in circulation are returned to the NHS. A patient using a refurbished walking aid is unlikely to notice the difference, but it produces around 87% less carbon emissions than a new one.

Sarah Price, chief officer for population health and health inequalities for NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, said: “Climate change is the single biggest threat to our planet, environment, and the people of Greater Manchester. That’s why the NHS in Greater Manchester is working hard to reduce our carbon emissions and make healthcare more sustainable. Our ambitious Green Plan sets out our successes so far and how we plan to lessen our environmental impact in the years ahead, working closely with NHS hospital trusts and other partners.”

Recycle Week is an annual event that aims to encourage more people to recycle more things, more often. This year’s theme is ‘Let’s Get Real’ and is all about challenging perceptions and myths around recycling. The walking aid return and reuse initiative demonstrates how Greater Manchester continues to champion reuse and work towards a circular economy.

The Renew Hub at Trafford Park which opened in 2021 is a dedicated space for the repair, reuse, and resale of a wide range of household items that otherwise would have gone to waste. This joint initiative between R4GM and Greater Manchester’s waste disposal partners SUEZ, offers good quality, pre-loved items at an affordable price to Greater Manchester residents via three Renew shops and the online Renew Market.

Cllr Martyn Cox, GMCA lead for the green city-region and waste and recycling, said: “This new partnership with the NHS will help us to further reduce waste, cut our carbon emissions, and save the NHS money at a critical time. When it creates a more circular economy, achieving our net zero ambitions, and supporting our health service, it just makes perfect sense. I would ask all Greater Manchester residents to check their cupboards, lofts and sheds to see if they have any forgotten or unused walking aids which could be returned to the NHS, and given a new lease of life by someone who really needs them.”

This new recycling scheme is here to stay. Drop off locations across the city-region – both household waste recycling centres and NHS sites – will continue to accept walking aids, after Recycle Week ends on 23 October.

Read our Green Plan


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