The medical waste dilemma


In addition to overseeing cleaning and maintenance, facility managers in hospitals and other health care facilities are responsible for the safe disposal of garbage, including medical waste. The methods by which facility managers take care of medical waste disposal have a direct impact on employee health and the environment, reports Healthcare Facilities Today.

Although 85% of medical waste is not hazardous, healthcare facilities dispose of most of it by burning and incineration, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Incinerated medical waste is responsible for a large proportion of harmful particles in the air. However, if this waste is not burned, items such as discarded medicines and sharp objects could end up in community waterways, increasing the risk of injury and the spread of disease.

US healthcare facilities dispose of more than 5 million tons of waste each year. And this amount is expected to increase every year. Sale of medical waste containers are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% by 2031, reaching US$36 billion.

To address the increase in medical waste, healthcare facility managers need to create a disposal plan that fits into their facility’s workflow. By collaborating with and educating employees, they can identify specific areas of improvement and set relevant safety and sustainability goals that align with regulatory guidelines. For example, they can study methods to divert certain plastics and other types of waste from landfills

“The primary goal of medical waste management is and always will be to prevent infection and keep people safe,” said Jim Anderson, vice president of business strategy at Stericycle. “The challenge for healthcare facilities now is to identify how to manage waste sustainably, while keeping health and safety as their North Star. One way for healthcare organizations to start doing this is to look for reusable resources instead of single-use plastics where available. »



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