In 2019, Board Members, Chief Executive Officers, and Chief Financial Officers are being challenged to accept environmental and social responsibilities beyond their traditional focus on financial and corporate outcomes.
These challenges are being driven by public scrutiny, Government regulation and class action lawsuits which are exposing liabilities never contemplated in the past.
Public and private corporations are now being forced to accept and deal with the environmental impacts of their operations including their waste streams and their air and water emissions and that is particularly so when these involve intractable materials. The two articles below published this year by the Australia Institute of Company director are good focuses on recycling and climate change.
In another initiative, both Federal and State Governments are placing a major focus on plastic recycling and moving quickly to introduce legislation and targets. This is expected to increase. Recent surveys have shown support for recycling at over 90% of the people surveyed.
So, what does this have to do with medical waste? At present only around 10% of medical waste is recycled. High-value clean plastics and material are dumped or burnt. Not only does this place an unnecessary demand on scarce landfill capacity but current practices produce intractable residues. Burning releases emissions into the atmosphere containing furans and dioxins and autoclaves produce contaminated liquid wastes.
None of this is necessary.
In 2018, Medical Device Technologies introduced the AMB Ecosteryl technology to Australasia and Oceania. While the technology is new to Australia it has been operating for 15 years in over 50 countries worldwide (USA, France, Canada, UK, Malaysia and other less developed regions such as Guyana). The technology has also been certified by the United Nations, World Health Organisation and World Trade as the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable treatment of medical waste and recovery.
This technology effectively resolves three of the major environmental challenges in dealing with medical waste. Firstly, the technology produces no intractable residues or emissions and its low energy requirement reduces CO2 emissions. Secondly, the technology can be configured to recycle up to 80% of medical waste material into a valuable commercially viable product. Finally, the technology reduces the volume of the landfill by 80%.
- AMB Ecosteryl treats medical waste using microwave technology instead of incineration or autoclave treatment both of which have high energy inputs. The process eliminates emission and release of furans and dioxins to the atmosphere.
- No water is used in the process which eliminates the intractable liquid wastes generated by autoclaves.
- 80% of high-value plastics are recycled, thereby removing this from the environment and landfill.
- The high-quality plastics in the medical waste can be recycled into new products.
- The technology would employ several plants providing redundancy that does not currently exist in several States in Australia. If a single major furnace broke down waste producers are at risk.
- The technology lends itself to a hub and spoke model which would greatly reduce the environmental impacts of transportation of medical waste.
- Solar power can be used to power the majority of plant power needs, thereby reducing the environmental footprint and reducing per/kg costs
- Processing costs are much lower than using furnaces and autoclaves which will immediately reduce operating budgets and allow redirection of money into patient care.
- Health professionals do not need to be involved in collecting and separating medical waste before collection.
- The footprint required for co-location of a plant within a hospital is very small compared to incineration and autoclaves
- The plant requires only a single trained operator. Units can be installed in health facilities with the space available to accommodate the technology.
- Based on the performance characteristics of the more than 150 installations currently operating the plant availability is better than 95%
- The logistics task is greatly reduced by a hub and spoke model.
In Australia, there is very little effort by the waste service providers or health services to reduce their environmental footprint, apart from a handful of schemes to reuse some of this valuable highly recyclable resource found in the medical waste produced. Existing medical waste recycling schemes only represent 10% of medical waste produced and are labour intensive for health providers, when 80% could be recycled through technology mechanisation.
The majority of the medical waste providers have ignored the technology, even though it can reduce costs to their struggling healthcare clients and also provide a recycling opportunity that will stop a valuable resource from being burned or landfilled, and the health service providers have also been reluctant to drive the recycling of their waste.
Many corporate websites include self-congratulatory platitudes about the sustainable objectives included in their strategic planning and cultural behaviors but few but there is a continuing inertia to keep doing what they have been doing for the past 20 years without regard to the impacts on the environment, the demand for scarce landfill, the waste of recyclable high-grade plastics and the lower costs they could provide to their customers.
Australia is currently light-years behind world best practice in processing medical waste.
As leaders and directors of health services, you have the ability to drive best practice in medical waste treatment through processing and recycling. If 80% presently can be recycled these targets should be set to the industry through dialog, targets, and tenders. Governments should also be engaged to ensure targets are adopted. The best news of all the cost of processing medical waste with AMB Ecosteryl is less than furnaces and autoclaves and would create new jobs in the secondary cycle of plastic recycling.
In Europe, they are already producing sharp bins from recovered plastics and avoiding cross-contamination of other programs.
Current and future generations should not have to consume 5g of plastic every month or 50000 particles every year.
To know more about the AMB Technology hit on the below link:
If you’d like to discuss how we can help you improve your medical waste capabilities, give James a call on 0414 755 589, or Contact Us.