How to manage healthcare waste sustainably

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), of the total amount of waste generated by healthcare activities, about 15% is considered hazardous material that may be infectious, chemical or radioactive:

 

  • Infectious waste: waste contaminated with blood, bodily fluids, cultures, infectious agents, waste from patients with infections
  • Pathological waste: human tissues, organs or fluids, body parts and contaminated animal carcasses
  • Sharps waste: syringes, needles, disposable scalpels and blades
  • Chemical waste: solvents and reagents, disinfectants, sterilants and heavy metals contained in medical devices and batteries
  • Pharmaceutical waste: expired, unused and contaminated drugs and vaccines
  • Cyctotoxic waste: waste containing substances with genotoxic properties such as cytotoxic drugs used in cancer treatment
  • Radioactive waste: products contaminated by radionuclides including radioactive diagnostic material or radiotherapeutic materials

 

Improper management of these hazardous materials can lead to the spread of infectious diseases and pose large-scale health risks such as:

 

  • exposure to infectious diseases
  • sharps-related needlestick injuries
  • toxic exposure to pharmaceutical products
  • toxic exposure to cytotoxic carcinogens
  • heavy metals leak into the environment

 

Why is waste segregation important?

Waste segregation is a crucial element in any sustainable waste management strategy for the healthcare sector. Every facility should separate its waste at the source to reduce risk of infection, as well as the cost of handling and disposal.

 

Effective segregation at the point where waste is generated ensures that hazardous waste is treated in a safe and environmentally sustainable way, without risk to healthcare workers and patients. At each point of waste generation, there should be separate, properly labelled and colour-coded containers appropriate for the specified type of waste.

 

When waste is sent for disposal or treatment, having a contaminated load can affect the disposal process. Contamination occurs when waste is put in the wrong bin – for example, if clinical waste is inappropriately disposed into general waste, one of two consequences will occur, either:

  • the complete load will need to be sent off for appropriate treatment, and increase the cost and environmental impact of disposal
  • the load is not identified as contaminated and will be sent off to landfill which has the potential to becoming a health and environmental hazard

 

Effective segregation:

  • ensures each waste item is collected and treated in accordance with regulations for each waste type
  • prevents hazardous waste in the general municipal waste stream
  • prevents illegal reuse of pharmaceuticals
  • provides opportunities for recycling
  • reduces the cost of treatment and disposal by reducing waste to the general bin
  • ensures safety of healthcare workers, patients and visitors

 

 

How we segregate medical waste

When it comes to understanding the complexities of waste management in the medical sector, Cleanaway and Daniels Health are your ideal partner for safe and effective solutions.

 

Our team of experts ensure that each healthcare facility we work with is fully compliant with all local and federally mandated regulations. Through training, site mapping and online reporting, we work closely with each healthcare facility to mitigate the risk of fines and infringement penalties.

 

The Daniels range of products support segregation at the source with clear colour and labelling, and includes:

 

Sharps collection
The Daniels Sharpsmart system is the world’s safest and most environmentally responsible sharps management system. Designed specifically for sharps collection and disposal, the Sharpsmart can be attached to an Accessmart to group it with any Clinismart product, it is also available for pharmaceutical purposes. It is available in 6.5, 14.5 and 23.5 litres capacities to suit low volume and high volume areas.

 

 

Laparoscopic waste
The Daniels Laprosmart is the premium solution for instrument disposal in a theatre environment. The Laparosmart’s wider aperture and taller vertical drop creates a compatible solution for longer bulkier instruments and volumetric sharps waste.

 

Cytotoxic waste
The Daniels solution to cytotoxic waste includes a Clinismart, sharps collectors, pails and MGB’s. These products are used for clinical waste that has been contaminated with cytotoxic chemicals. All cytotoxic waste is incinerated, and it is important that this waste stream is correctly segregated at the source.

Pharmaceutical waste

The Daniels Pharmasmart product range includes a sharps collector, Clinismart, pail and MGB for pharmaceutical related products. Sharps should always be disposed of in the sharps collector, the other collectors are designed for prescription or expired medication, glass vials and ampoules with drug residue. All pharmaceutical waste is incinerated, and it is important that this waste stream is correctly segregated at the source.

 

Clinical waste
Clinical waste is any waste that has been contaminated with blood or bodily fluid (except urine or faeces, unless also contaminated with blood or other known infectious matter) and waste that has the potential to cause infection or offence. The Daniels clinical waste collection range includes the Clinismart, pails and MGB’s to suit all volumes and usage frequency.

 

 

Anatomical waste
Anatomical waste is any pathological specimen, biopsy specimen, recognisable tissue taken during surgery or autopsy, as well as any identifiable body part. The Daniels range for anatomical waste includes MBG’s and pails.

 

Are you at risk from a sharps injury? Here’s everything you need to know about the safe disposal of sharps.

 

Contact us today for more information about how we make a sustainable future possible in the healthcare industry.