AN INNOVATIVE Greenock business is helping healthcare facilities save on hand sanitiser costs while doing their bit for the environment.

The team at Redeem Exchange collect empty plastic bottles of hand sanitiser, wash them, refill them, and get them back out into circulation.

The business was set up after social enterprise Trade Right International, based in Lynedoch Industrial Estate, won a contract to produce 250,000 bottles of hand sanitiser for NHS Scotland at the start of the pandemic.

Trade Right International owners Trev and Denice Gregory came up with the idea of encouraging people to reuse the bottles after the sanitiser had been used up.

After discussions with the NHS and the Scottish Government, and with help from Zero Waste Scotland, they set up Redeem Exchange and launched it in September.

The company has now placed 23 containers for empty plastic bottles in facilities across the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde region - including Inverclyde Royal and Greenock Health Centre.

Head of national operations Bev Knight said that in just over a month, four full containers have been collected.

Bev said: "It's a really simple idea but so effective.

"All plastic hand sanitiser bottles are single use and can take up to 400 years to degrade, so their environmental impact is massive.

"We're trying to get people to view these bottles differently.

"They're not the same as plastic bottles and can't be disposed of in the same way.

"They're financial assets and by reclaiming those bottles, people are saving money which can be redirected into other resources.

"Establishing a circular economy in this way could stop two million bottles going to landfill every year, so it could potentially have a huge impact on the environment."

The Redeem Exchange team operate under strict infection control and hygiene measures when collecting, washing, refilling and delivering the bottles.

Bev is running the project for six months with a view to a full rollout across the whole of Scotland.

The company also hopes that collection boxes will begin to make their way into additional GP practices, dental practices and care homes.

The project has received support from Winterhalter, the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, and the European Regional Development Fund.

Bev added: "Due to the current situation, we're very reliant on people on the ground buying into the initiative and advocating it on our behalf.

"So many people want to get involved in the process and we're looking forward to seeing how things progress."