Clinical Waste Disposal
Everything from body parts and fluids to syringes and pharmaceuticals are considered as clinical waste. Anything that could be considered as harmful in some way to either humans or animals needs to be disposed of under tight control which incorporates both safety and sustainability. All dangerous clinical waste should be incinerated.
Most of the clinical waste we produce comes from the healthcare industries and needs to be carefully managed, both in a particular clinic and when it leaves the premises. That means having specialist containers which are colour coded for different kinds of waste, for example, sharps, needles, dressings and so on. Staff also need to be trained to make sure that clinical waste is put into the right container as cross contamination can be problematic.
Find out more about clinical waste management.
Clinical Waste in the Home
Not all clinical waste is produced in areas such as hospitals or GP practices. Many people with long term conditions will have treatment at home and provision has to be made for dealing with this waste so that it is handled properly. Under normal circumstances this involves providing the home owner with the appropriate container and arranging pickup by a nurse or other healthcare professional or collection by a designated clinical waste disposal service. Under most circumstances, this waste should never be put into the normal domestic waste.
Criminal Offences and Clinical Waste
Because of the harm it can cause to others, disposing of clinical waste in ordinary waste bins is a criminal offence and can lead to prosecution. This raises the issue of training employees properly and making sure they know what their responsibilities are, something that is often overlooked by busy practices that have a high turnover of staff.
Clinical Waste Incineration
Today’s incinerators not only have to be of the type approved by DEFRA but also be EU complaint where it comes to emissions. These usually operate at high heat and are designed to reduce the level of waste by as much as 90%, sterilizing it and getting rid of the need for pre-processing to make the waste safe. When material of any kind is incinerated, there are naturally emissions that are produced and many of the new High Temperature Incineration (HTI) facilities nowadays have the latest technology installed to help reduce these significantly. There is also a move towards using the heat produced by these incinerators to create energy that can be used for running a facility or supplying electricity to the local grid.
These plants are designed to deal with all kinds of hazardous waste including contaminated soils and powders, oil sludge and low level radioactive materials. The state of the art rotary kiln incinerator in Ellesmere Port can deal with 100,000 tonnes of waste and operates up to 1,200 °C.
On-Site Clinical Waste Disposal
Most hospitals used to have onsite incinerators but because of concerns about emissions and complying with EU standards, and the cost of running these, a number now use centralised, municipal facilities such as the one at Ellesmere Port. Regions such as the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS trust still have an onsite incinerator for clinical waste which they use to provide heating for their hospital. The East Cheshire NHS Trust on the other hand does not have onsite incinerators and use an external contractor to deal with their clinical waste.
Find out more about waste disposal services in your area.