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What is biomedical waste?

Biomedical waste covers a wide range of used medical equipment. These can potentially be infectious so they need to be disposed of safely and responsibly. Common biomedical waste items include syringes and needles, IV sets, urine bags, pathological waste, culture dishes, PPE and contaminated laboratory waste. These items simply can’t be re-used in any manner once they’ve been administered initially. Biomedical waste can be in liquid or solid form such as discarded blood or extracted bodily fluids.

This type of waste is a by-product of medical processes conducted in hospitals – items are used in operations, during ongoing treatment and for diagnosing conditions. Responsible waste management when it comes to biomedical products is in the general principles of hygiene and sanitation. Initially, when using the products, good housekeeping prevents the spread of disease from the products before they get to the stage where they need to be disposed of and incinerated.

The 4 categories that medical waste falls under are General, Infectious, Hazardous and Radioactive. Biomedical waste is incinerated in either a hospital incinerator or through industry-standard biomedical waste incinerators. These are complex machines that were designed to dispose of these materials effectively and responsibly to prevent any spread of disease.

Why does it need to be incinerated?

In simple terms, biomedical waste essentially is classed as a biohazard because of the potential for the spread of disease. Depending on what category of biomedical waste the item falls under it could potentially be spreading radioactive waste such as the by-products of the chemotherapy process. Medicines or biomedical materials left out in the open could be fatal for animals or humans and could present risk of disease which could easily spiral out of control in densley populated areas.

By law, medical waste is classified as hazardous and toxic waste and is supposed to be incinerated to stop the spread of diseases and prevent contamination but weak supervision and enforcement of the rules as well as the lack facilities of certified incinerators in some countries mean that medical waste is sometimes sent to landfill which poses huge contamination and environmental issues both today and for future generations.

The situation has been exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

hazard waste

Where should you be using incineration?

The process is required in any hospital including Military hospitals however, recent studies have found that the system of disposal found in field hospitals is often far from ideal and well below the standards found at a traditional hospital site. This can sometimes be down to a lack of guidelines and resources or that the military hospital may be located in a war zone.

This could also be down to processes or procedures which haven’t been documented or implemented properly. INCINER8 has started to change this through its provision of medical waste solutions to developing countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania.

We work closely with military organisations, charities and aid agencies to ensure they have suitable bio-secure solutions for disposing of COVID-19 waste and general medical waste helping to protect vulnerable communities and the environment.

How is it disposed of responsibly?

Essentially, the process of incineration consists of the controlled burning of biomedical waste. All of our products are designed with strict “CLEAN AIR” pollution control systems meaning NO HARMFUL GASES ARE EMITTED INTO THE ENVIRONMENT.

The resulting waste from incineration is typically 3-5% inert ash which can be reclaimed and recycled or mixed into concrete to pave roads.

recycling symbolSummary

Incineration is proven to be the safest and most effective means for responsibly disposing of biomedical and hazardous waste. It is acknowledged globally that incineration is the preferred method for tackling waste and protecting communities and nature from the environmental impact of alternatives such as landfill.

Advancements in medical sciences and vaccines are saving more lives than ever and treating conditions with more accuracy than before. These advances would all be in vain if the biomedical waste wasn’t disposed of properly and responsibly. Lack of adherence to these procedures would mean the potential for future spread outbreaks could not be of disease would become rampant and would result in more hospital admissions putting health care systems under further pressure.

assorted medical waste

Hazardous medical waste that needs to be carefully disposed of by incineration. Items include clinical waste such as used syringes and needles, used swabs, plasters and bandages. Used drug blister packs and ampules. Biomedical waste is potentially infectious.

It is essential that the process of incinerating biomedical waste isn’t harmful to the environment and doesn’t produce harmful gases.

Currently the processes handled by hospital incinerators and biomedical incinerators in general do effectively manage this waste responsibly. No by-products are left at the end that are released into the atmosphere or have no means of disposal.

To find out how INCINER8 can help your organisation in disposing of medical and biomedical waste please read our medical incinerators page for more information.

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