Does Medical Waste Get Recycled?


Each year across the earth, more than two millions of medical waste, referred to as infectious waste or biohazardous waste, is produced in veterinary clinics, homes, and hospitals.

This staggering level of waste has to really go somewhere, and until now most of it went into landfills to remain hidden and then forgotten about.

Our environmentally conscious readers here might be asking themselves the reason we do not recycle this waste again? Well, the answer is because a lot of medical waste couldn’t be recycled, many hospitals, as well as other waste generating facilities or equipment, assumed recycling what they can cost more cash, take up time and at the end not be worth the effort.

Why Do We Have to Do Medical Recycling?

As medical waste is being picked up, it runs through a process of sterilization and then inserted into a sanitary landfill. Though these landfills are properly designed, animals could still access the waste and then water can still leak out, polluting the local supplies of water.

Obviously, recycled waste that is doesn’t go into a landfill, therefore reducing the level of pollution that occurs each year.

According to the (WHO) World Health Organization, medical waste incineration can “generate furans and dioxins that are human carcinogens and are associated with a variety of adverse health effects. Incinerating heavy metals or even materials having high metal content (especially lead, cadmium, and mercury) can result in the spread of toxic metals in our environment.”

What Then Can You Recycle?

Reduction In Motion specializes in continuing education, states that operating rooms produced between 20 percent – 33 percent of total medical waste generated in hospitals. The issue with this is that a lot of the products used in the operating room have to be sterile, and then the safest way of ensuring this is to have a single use stuff like a sterile blue wrap, IV bags, and so on.

How Is It Recycled?

Much plastic waste was recycled by sterilizing, melting it down and reusing it.

Now, the problem is 19 percent of all OR waste usually comes from sterilized wraps. Previously, it was said that because some parts of the wrap have lead content, and because it’s hard to sterilize, the blue wrap was thrown away.

Now, What Are We Doing to Improve the Amount of Recycled Medical Waste?
Across the global organizations like the WHO, the EPA, and others have also been working hard at discovering more efficient methods of recycling medical waste.

One primary way we’re increasing the quantity of medical waste that’s recycled is by putting non-plastic and plastic medical waste in different containers. Doing this permits the facility that will dispose of your collected medical waste to sort through as well as recycle the plastic waste.

The EPA found that a lot of hospitals don’t train their employees properly on medical waste disposal that causes their doctors and nurses to err cautiously when disposing of some medical waste, always putting your trash in biohazard bags which should not be in there!

Therefore, while it is still a developing practice, medical recycling is growing fast. Just do your part to reduce medical waste pollution.