Environmental Research Associates

Environmental Research Associates there's cash in trash!

Hospital waste management
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About Hospital Waste

What Is Hospital Waste?

To understand the details of our waste program process, you should understand some basic terms.

  • Regulated Medical Waste = Hospital waste that requires, by law, special treatment or handling
    • Also known as biohazard waste, infectious waste and potentially infectious waste
    • Includes sharps, blood, blood products, laboratory wastes, pathological wastes, isolation wastes, and animal carcasses
  • General Waste = General trash not considered capable of transmitting disease or causing injury. Not unlike household waste
  • Waste Minimization = Waste Reduction = Source Reduction = Reducing the toxicity or quantity of discarded products before the products are purchased, used or discarded
  • Recycling = Segregating discarded materials based on their reusable characteristics for processing new products
  • Reuse = Utilizing non-disposable supplies to reduce waste quantities

Where Does the Hospital's Waste Come From? Where Does It Go?

There are 3 phases of a hospital's waste stream. At ERA, we strengthen savings and safety in all phases.

Phase 1

Every supply item, once used, must be disposed of at hospital cost. The hospital also gets the disposal bill for the packaging. Typically, two thirds of a hospital's waste is packaging.

We educate the purchasers to consider the waste factor and to "jawbone" suppliers and manufacturers to minimize packaging and its costs.

Phase 2

Once a supply item is used it becomes a waste item. Designating the proper waste stream will have a significant effect on savings and safety.

Phase 3

Determining the disposal methodology for each waste stream, e. g. hauling, recycling, autoclaving, etc. is our third savings/safety opportunity.

Some Hospital Waste Facts

An overview of a typical hospital’s waste profile:

  • The regulated medical waste (RMW) percentage of a hospital's total waste ranges from 5% to 95%
  • The total weighted RMW average is about 15 - 20%
  • Incineration of RMW is being replaced by alternative solutions such as steam sterilization or autoclaving
  • Frequently 35-40% of disposed needles have been recapped
  • Typically 80-95% of a hospital's RMW is actually general waste (GW)
  • A hospital's daily waste output is very consistent from day to day
  • BUT! Different hospitals differ widely in their waste characteristics

Biggest Waste Management Problems of a Typical Hospital

Hospital waste means trouble! At ERA, it is our objective to eliminate all of a hospital's waste problems by educating employees to make good "throw away" decisions and to keep hospitals safe and efficient.

  • Excessive general waste in red bags
  • Throwing away of reusable instruments, linen, and other supplies
  • Soaring waste handling costs
  • Every hospital patient, visitor, and employee is a waste generator
  • Regulated medical waste in general waste containers
  • The hospital is responsible and liable for waste disposal problems from "cradle to grave"
  • Loose needles in waste bags
  • Poorly sealed waste bags
  • Overfilled and clogged sharps containers