Every time you make a trip to the hospital, you create medical waste. Even if you do not get a shot or have blood drawn, the tongue depressor and other items that come in contact with your body’s fluids can be considered biohazardous.
How is medical waste collected?
In years past, this waste was simply collected in special plastic boxes and bags and then disposed of just like normal trash. It was eventually found that this was not only not safe for the environment but it was also not safe for the refuse workers or the general population who may come in contact with this dangerous waste.
Thanks to recent regulations, today biohazard waste disposal companies must come to pick up the medical waste and take it to a treatment facility to be rendered safe and non-hazardous.
The red bags that you see in your doctor’s office are used to collect any waste that is soft and cannot penetrate the shell of the bag. Anything that could poke through the bags, such as needles, is collected in red hard plastic boxes that cannot be pierced by the sharp objects. It is very important that waste ends up in the proper container so as to keep everyone safe.
The waste is then put in a special area where a medical waste services company picks it up and takes it back to their facility. Here the waste is sorted through to remove any items that can be sent to a recycling center after it has been sterilized.
How is biohazard waste made safe?
Biohazardous waste is made safe through a sterilization process. Waste that cannot be recycled, like gauze or needles, still needs to be made sanitary and non-hazardous before it can be thrown away in a dump or landfill. This is usually done through the use of an autoclave which works by forcing air out of the unit and steaming the items at an intensely high heat. The temperature is so high that no bacteria can survive and thus the items are deemed safe for recycling or disposal.
After all the bacteria is removed by the autoclave process, the waste can then be disposed of in the normal manner.
So what happens with biohazardous waste once it’s placed in the designated container?
After the waste is made safe by the autoclave process, the waste can then be disposed of in the normal manner. There are some items, such as plastic items, which are sanitized by being melted down and then are sent to a recycling center where they can be made into new products. It is important for the medical waste disposal company to ensure that any product that they send for recycling has first been rendered safe. Melting down the plastic before sending it for recycling is the best way to remove any bacteria that may be present.
Do only hospitals produce biohazardous waste?
Many people are under the assumption that biohazard waste disposal only needs to be handled at doctors’ offices and hospitals. There are more institutions that need this type waste disposal than the traditional ones.
Other faciliites that produce biohazard waste include:
- Jails and prisons
- Gyms and pools
- Animal hospitals and shelters
- Veterinarian offices
Rather than letting the waste they produce end up in the regular trash and create a hazard, these places need to make sure their waste is properly disposed of.
Biohazardous waste must be handled properly according to the laws of the state and federal governments. For this reason, a biohazard waste disposal company is the only entity that can properly dispose of this type of waste. While medical waste was once simply placed in red bags or boxes and sent to the landfills, today this is not the case. The waste must be treated and rendered harmless before it can be recycled or thrown away.