Photo: Central Denmark Region 

Plastic waste from three hospitals has been turned into a sustainable playground at Randers Regional Hospital. This project shows the great perspectives in sorting and recycling plastic products.

Staff at hospitals in Randers, Horsens and Aarhus have been sorting plastic waste for the past two years. Now the many bottles, plastic tubes and other waste from the daily clinical work have been turned into playground equipment at "The Circular Playground" a new sustainable playground at Randers Regional Hospital. In total, 54% less CO2 has been emitted by establishing this playground compared with a playground produced with new plastic.

- In the future we will use materials for something else instead of just throwing them away; this is a focus area in Central Denmark Region’s sustainability strategy. The Circular Playground is an example of what can be achieved when we work together. Waste management is a society problem, which we cannot and should not solve alone, says Anders Kühnau, Chairman of the Regional Council in Central Denmark Region.

300 kilos of plastic waste have been remoulded

The Circular Playground is based on the principles of circular economy, where a material has a circular lifecycle and is transformed into something new instead of being thrown away or burned. In total, 300 kilos of plastic waste have been collected at Randers Regional Hospital, Aarhus University Hospital and Horsens Regional Hospital.

Plastic waste from the oceans has also been used for the climbing towers and playground equipment. The poles include recycled textiles, and the playground surface partially consists of material from used shoes. All materials at the playground are recyclable when they are to be changed in the future.

- It is fantastic that children will now have a playground made by sorted and recycled materials. It is a huge step in the right direction. Many companies in Randers Municipality have considerable know-how in the recycling of plastics. We are very happy to be part of this partnership and make this playground a reality. Partnerships like this will create more initiatives and solutions in the future, says Torben Hansen, Mayor of Randers Municipality.

Partnership across the value chain

The project is a partnership between the producer of playground equipment KOMPAN, Central Denmark Region, Dansk Affaldsminimering (plastic waste recycling company), Randers Municipality and Compas (strategy centre for circular economy).

The collaboration started in the summer 2019 when KOMPAN was looking for clean and sorted plastic waste to be turned into new playground equipment. Central Denmark Region was trying to find out how the region’s hospitals could recycle their plastic waste. The two partners were linked by Compas.

The partnership has developed into a value chain: hospitals collecting waste suitable for recycling. The types of plastic PP and HDPE are candidates for recycling. These types of plastic are found in disposable tubes for anaesthesia equipment or empty bottles from cleaning agents and sterile water. Dansk Affaldsminimering processes the plastic into pellets which can be used to mould new plastic.

KOMPAN has developed the optimal composition of old and new plastic to ensure that as much plastic as possible can be used without compromising quality and safety. The playground is built on the hospital area to the benefit of both patients and local citizens.

- In KOMPAN we have worked with green solutions for many years; and the work does not stop here. This is only the beginning of a new generation of playgrounds which may/may not look differently than they used to. What is invisible to the naked eye is the huge reduction in CO2 – not only in the production of playground equipment but also in the waste management of the healthcare sector. Many of the materials used for the playground were disposable materials used at the hospital a few meters from here and this shows us that we are going in the right direction, says Connie Astrup-Larsen, CEO at KOMPAN.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

The project is based on 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals with focus on social and environmental aspects of sustainability. The word playground is to be understood in its broadest sense as an inclusive public activity room with focus of health and thriving for everybody. The playground space is open to the city, has wheelchair access and invites everybody to take part in a community with physical activity for all age groups.

Foto 2 - Den Cirkulære Legeplads.jpg

300 kilos of plastic waste, equivalent to 4,478 empty bottles with sterile water or approximately 1,000 tubes for anaesthesia, have been remolded into the climbing tower at the Circular Playground. Photo: Central Denmark Region