Why must hazardous waste be segregated from municipal waste?

Medical waste can be infectious, causing high contamination and cross contamination risks to both people and the environment.

How can it be segregated?

According to the recommendations of WHO and other health organizations, hazardous medical waste should be treated as close as possible to the point of its production (operating theatres, laboratories, etc.). This requires responsibility from all hospital employees involved in the process, so that the segregation of the waste is performed at the stage of its generation.

Types of medical waste:

  • Infectious waste: waste contaminated with blood / blood by-products, cultures and stocks of infectious agents, waste originating from isolation ward patients, discarded diagnostic samples containing blood and body fluids, infected animals originating from laboratories, and contaminated materials (bandages, swabs) and equipment (such as disposable medical instruments).
  • Pathological waste: identifiable human body parts and contaminated animal carcasses.
  • Sharps: disposable scalpels and blades, syringes, needles, etc.
  • Chemicals: mercury, solvents, disinfectants etc.
  • Pharmaceuticals: unused, contaminated, and out-of-date medicines; vaccines and serums.
  • Genotoxic waste: very hazardous teratogenic, mutagenic, or carcinogenic waste, such as cytotoxic medicines for the treatment of cancer and their metabolites.
  • Radioactive waste: for example glassware contaminated with radioactive diagnostic matter or materials used during radiotherapy.
  • Heavy metal waste: for example mercury thermometers.

Why must the waste be shredded?

  • Shredding the waste ensures the penetration of the steam, because the violent action of the shredding blades allows steam to penetrate the waste more efficiently and eliminates the possibility of cold spots.
  • With shredding, the waste will be unusable, so in this case we can prevent it being recycled and spreading contamination.
  • Another advantage is that shredding can reduce the waste to as little as 20% of its original volume.
Medical waste collection in bags and sharp boxes
Medical waste converted to sterile and shredded waste which can be disposed as municipal waste

Why is the ISS eco-friendly?

  • The hazardous medical waste is treated with pure steam and transformed into municipal waste.
  • Shredding can reduce the waste to 20% of its original volume without any harmful substances being released.

What are the alternatives for the treatment of medical waste?

  • Incineration
  • Chemical disinfection
  • Wet (autoclaving) and dry thermal treatment
  • Microwave irradiation
  • Land disposal
  • Inertization

Why are incinerators not recommended?

Incineration creates massive emissions of black smoke, fly ash, toxic flue gas, and odors, and it necessitates the transportation of the medical waste.

Considering the transportation of the waste, there is a high risk of:

1. Illegal / inappropriate disposal by the haulage personnel

  • Dumping
  • Obsolete treatment technologies

2. Accidents

  • Cross-contamination
  • Spillage
  • Transportation
Risk in transportation of hazardous waste

In addition, the waste has to be taken to a treatment center, and in some urban areas the transportation of hazardous waste is prohibited.

Why is the only acceptable solution to shredding and sterilizing to perform it within one vessel?

With the Integrated Sterilizer and Shredder (ISS),  the shredding and the sterilization is done within one single vessel. The importance of this is essential during maintenance procedures, as it provides a safe working environment for both operators and technicians. The processed waste is rendered non-infectious, non-hazardous, and non-reusable; it is defined as non-regulated waste and can be discarded as normal municipal waste. This process takes place in one vessel to preclude the possibility of any cross-contamination.

Treatment of medical hazardous waste with steam sterilization and shredding in a single vessel

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