Medical Waste – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is the Winning Formula

Though treatment and medical waste removal does reduce the risks, indirect health risks still remain. Given this scenario, the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, R…

Medical wastes not only pose a risk to human lives but also to the environment and animal life. Though treatment and medical waste removal does reduce the risks, indirect health risks may occur through the release of toxic pollutants or through treatment or disposal of waste. Given this scenario, the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle seems to be an apt solution for managing medical wastes. And for the most part a winning formula too.

Medical wastes include a myriad by products of healthcare activities, such as Infectious wastes — cultures and stocks of infectious agents, etc, Anatomic wastes – the body parts and animal carcasses, Sharp wastes–syringes, disposable scalpels, etc., Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Radioactive matter –radioactive diagnostic material, Wastes with high heavy metal content e.g. broken mercury thermometers. In addition to these include the used up medical consumables like gloves, bandages, medical tapes, sanitary products, etc, which are processed by waste treatment equipment and waste management plant.

Though it may have taken some time for adjusting to the three R’s, it seems to be gaining momentum pretty fast, as can be witnessed from the growth of the medical device reuse industry. Presently valued at $4 billion, it’s forecasted for a significant annual growth rate of 12.9% through 2012. And much of the popularity is due to the cost savings derived from reuse.

As for the winning formula, this year’s, The 2008 European Medical Devices Green Excellence Product Innovation Award by Frost & Sullivan to to the EcoGlove system should be proof enough.

The company was successful in introducing a system that change the glove supply from a commodity style purchasing to a full service based approach. The medical waste management equipment innovation promises high quality glove, lower overall cost, better quality control, and also addresses the issues of waste management and overuse of resources in healthcare.

For instance, these gloves can be reconditioned for repeated use (up to 7 times). An H2O2 process cleans the gloves, which has the capability to reduce waste by as much as 75 per cent, thus slashing energy use and expense when compared to a single-use disposable product.

It appears that in these times of environmental concerns, especially the management of medical wastes and cost cutting, where often quality is given a back-seat to meet price pressures, only innovative solutions by the industry and waste management companies, incorporating the R’s will be the winners.