Methods & Challenges Recycling Medical Waste

recycling medical waste

The amount of waste produced around the world has always been significant, but the COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for removing and recycling medical related waste tenfold. At the peak of the outbreak in China, the city of Wihan produced 247 tons of waste per day. Now after year and a half into the pandemic, the scale of waste produced has increased to an even larger amount. With this increase in volume the importance of how to recycle medical waste is at the forefront of solutions needed.

This issue begs the question how we recycle our medical waste? Can we reuse it so it won’t end up in a landfill?

The answer is some tools can sterilized and reused, but most medical waste cannot be recycled. Medical materials need to be made sterile for effective use. Recycling medical waste also hasn’t taken off because it’s expensive, hard to sustain, and requires a lot of effort from supply chains.


What Materials Can Be Recycled?

A lot of single-use items can be recycled because they’re made from plastic. These items include IV bags, sterile blue wrap, etc. However, they’re labeled as single-use because they have to be sterile. Any other plastic medical waste items can also be recycled or reused.

Non-infectious items can also be slated as for medical waste recycling. These items include:

  • Personal hygiene products
  • Gauze and dressing material
  • Most waste generated by veterinary hospitals


How is Medical Waste Recycled?

The key to recycling medical waste is reuse of tools and separation by material type. Plastics should be separated from non-plastics and placed in separate containers. This makes it easier for the treatment facility workers to quickly sort.

After sorting, the medical waste goes through a sterilization process. Some can simply be wiped down, but the most commonly used is the autoclave that utilizes heat and pressure. This removes any harmful bacteria from the waste before being recycled.

Additionally medical and dental waste tools can sterilized through this process as well. MedPro Disposal helps with recycling medical waste by sterilizing auto replenishing commonly used tools so they don’t have to be thrown away.

We also encourage reusing sharps container to effectively reduce waste, click here to learn how you can easily implement this safely.

There is room for innovation when it comes to medical waste removal and recycling, but more than ever with the current COVID-19 pandemic it is important to adhere to best practices. Certain kinds of medical waste can be sterilized and reused, and some materials cannot be. When considering long-term safety concerns for people and environment, it’s important to consider if recycling is a possibility. What we can recycle helps reduce pollutants and make the earth greener. Medical waste disposal companies can assist in proper removal and recycling of your materials.

For more information on medical waste and recycling, please click here.

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