Disposable curtains hanging from cubicle tracks are commonly used by hospitals to enhance infection control and provide privacy to patients. But disposable items usually have a damaging environmental impact because they have a short lifetime and are often not recycled. In this article, we answer the question; are disposable curtains environmentally friendly?

Plastic waste and the NHS

The NHS disposes of around 133,000 tonnes of plastic each year, with roughly 5% of this plastic waste being recyclable. Recycling is challenging for hospitals because most of its plastic is classified as clinical waste because it has come into contact with bodily fluids. This type of waste demands different treatment to typical domestic waste, which is more costly.

Regarding cubicle curtains, a standard disposable curtain used by NHS Trusts is made from around 2kg of polypropylene plastic. In most cases, these curtains are not recycled. Instead, they’re sent to landfill or incinerated. When you consider the total number of disposable hospital curtains used each year, across all UK hospitals, it adds up to a staggering amount of wasted plastic.

Are disposable curtains environmentally friendly?

The answer to this question depends on how disposable curtains are treated after use. We want to stress that disposable curtains are not environmentally friendly if they are not recycled. Incinerating plastic produces a range of toxic gases which pollute the air. Plastic sent to landfill takes hundreds of years to degrade, releasing toxic chemicals into the ground. Not only are both of these disposal methods harmful to the environment, they incur large costs.

We provide a very unique service that is helping the NHS and private healthcare providers overcome this challenge. We offer an end-to-end recycling programme to customers, collecting used YewdaleHarrier® disposable curtains. This means NHS Trusts don’t have to pay disposal costs, saving thousands of pounds each year. Our recycling scheme also reduces Trusts’ environmental impact because the disposable cubicle curtains get repurposed instead of being incinerated or sitting in landfill.

Our sustainable disposable curtains

In addition to our recycling programme, our patented design saves up to 100 grams of plastic per curtain when compared with the industry standard. We have removed the unnecessary plastic eyelets and created hook hollows instead. This unique design reduces plastic waste without adversely impacting the performance of the curtain or cubicle track.

Sustainable disposable curtain

Our disposable curtains are 100% recyclable and dispatched in boxes made from recycled cardboard. We will even collect used packaging and reuse it if it’s in good condition or recycle it if it’s looking worse for wear.

Later this year, we will install solar panels on top of our manufacturing facility, meaning our products will be produced using renewable energy, further cutting the carbon footprint of our products. You can learn more about this and our net zero goal here.

Our disposable curtains are:

  • Available to order through the NHS Supply Chain
  • Produced using a Durasafe Certified 110gsm polypropylene which is up to 40% stronger than others
  • Manufactured in the UK
  • Readily available for next-day delivery
  • Provides more privacy (opaqueness) than the industry standard
  • Smoothest to operate disposable curtain in the UK when using our roller-wheeled curtain hooks

To learn more about our disposable curtain, please click here.


NHS Trusts can initiate simple changes with significant impacts by rethinking their procurement process and selecting products with a positive environmental impact. By partnering with innovative manufacturers like Yewdale, the NHS can reduce its plastic waste and overall carbon footprint.

For more information, a fast quote or a free sample, please contact us.