Safe management of waste

A wide variety of waste is generated in the care sector including used medical gloves, swabs and dressings, needles and sharps, and sanitary waste. If healthcare waste is not managed properly it can be harmful to the environment.

All waste needs to be dealt with effectively, not only for infection control and prevention, but also to make the best use of our resources. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 85% of the total waste generated by healthcare activities is classed as general and non-hazardous. The remaining 15% is considered hazardous – potentially infectious, or toxic, for instance. Wherever possible, non-hazardous waste should be recycled or recovered, into energy use for example.

 

Waste separation

The first step for effective management of waste is the segregation and proper identification of the types of waste. It is of crucial importance that infectious wastes are always separated from recyclables such as paper and food, ready for safe disposal through alternative treatment or incineration. Care home facilities need to ensure there are enough bins, that they are in the right place, that they are clearly marked, and finally, that instructions are being followed.

Any bin liner used in a healthcare setting – whether for hazardous, sanitary or general waste – should have been independently tested to prove its effectiveness and safety. Buyers in the healthcare industry should look for recognised quality standards such as the CHSA Refuse Sack Standard and EN standards, such as EN13592, alongside ISO quality management principles.

Cromwell Polythene is a major supplier of waste management solutions to the healthcare sector and an active member of the Sanitary Medical Disposal Services Association (SMDSA). We offer a full range of sacks for clinical waste management, from ultra-strong sacks with very high tear resistance to economically priced sacks with a high recycled content.

Our healthcare range includes refuse sacks, wheeled bin liners, tiger stripe sacks for deep landfill of offensive/hygiene waste, yellow sacks certified to UN standards for incineration of hazardous waste and orange UN standard sacks for alternative treatment of infectious and potentially infectious waste at a licensed or permitted facility.

Don’t bash the plastic

Plastic packaging is one of the resources that is omnipresent within facilities from personal protective equipment (PPE), to lining bins and sanitary units, to keeping food fresh. Using plastic waste sacks and bags makes it simple, safe, and hygienic to separate and collect waste effectively, for appropriate disposal or recycling.

Contrary to popular belief, using plastics has a very resource-efficient profile. Responsibly produced plastic packaging can have a high recycled content (up to 100%) and can be reprocessed many times, not only saving virgin material but associated energy as well. Where this is not practical, the calorific value can be recovered to generate electricity or heat at the end of their useful life, through energy from waste (EfW) plants.

Plastic packaging also brings value and efficiencies to the supply chain – weighing, on average, 4.5 times less than alternatives including paper, cardboard, glass and metal, thus reducing transportation costs.

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