Healthcare Waste

Medical Life Sciences News recently posted an article about Sustainable Management of Healthcare Waste. The article states that “The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies biomedical waste (BMW) as number 2 on the list of hazardous wastes, necessitating strict disposal policies which must be enforced by hospitals and waste treatment units in unison, to prevent contamination and pollution of the hospital surroundings.”

The problem with healthcare waste is a problem on every shoreline that has used syringes washing up on the beach. It became newsworthy during the pandemic, when PPE was left on the ground in parking lots across America. Not just because there were garbage bins with face masks littering the ground next to the bins, but because they could have been contaminated.

Healthcare waste (HCW) isn’t just disposable gloves and used syringes. Healthcare waste comprises several categories (infectious, pathological – toxic, radioactive, corrosive, or reactive – pharmaceutical, and chemical waste, as well as sharp objects).

The Medical Life Sciences News article states:

“The four principles of sustainability in managing HCW include the use of technology that is:

  • environmentally safe and does not harm public health
  • cost-effective and disposes of the waste in accordance with its economic value
  • socially acceptable and equitable to all local communities
  • supervised meaningfully and consistently to ensure that sound environmental measures are followed over the long term.

The aims of sustainable HCWM thus include reducing the consumption of natural resources through reuse, recycling and recovering the materials before they have to be disposed of, and disposing of such waste with minimal environmental impact.”

Reuse can often be a great option for some equipment, as it can provide medical devices to healthcare facilities that don’t have the funds to buy new. It’s not always a viable option, however. Some devices contain personal data stored on them, are at the end of their viable life span, or are generally useless (as in the case of broken devices, parts, consumables, or recalled equipment).

Choosing a Healthcare Waste Recycler

One important decision of any healthcare facility is selecting a electronics recycler. A good recycling vendor will be a partner that centers their role around documentation, audit trails, and compliance with environmental regulations. This will also reduce processing costs.

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