Waste Not, Want Not: How to Manage Your Medical Waste

July 5, 2016 Donna Craft

Did you know that for every pound of municipal solid waste that is improperly classified as regulated medical waste, you are paying 10 times as much for disposal as you should?

Healthcare waste volumes continue to grow nationwide. Better access to healthcare is a must, but could also mean higher demand. And what does higher demand mean?

Higher prices for waste disposal services. Acute care facilities already spend a large portion of their waste disposal dollars on regulated medical waste. Waste costs per pound increase exponentially for regulated medical waste, pharmaceutical and hazardous waste. We know this is a problem, but what’s the solution?

Reducing cost through prevention, recycling and better management techniques are the first areas of opportunity. It is a best practice to recycle universal waste, or materials that would otherwise be considered hazardous waste per state and federal definitions. If not recycled, these materials are required to be managed as hazardous waste, which can be considerably more expensive.

Waste disposal fees also vary regionally depending on competition and proximity to disposal facilities. Waste fees per ton are less for large generators, which makes a system contract with aggregation more valuable. Bundling of services is also becoming popular to let one hauler manage all your waste streams.

Other important factors include:

  • Proposed plan/scope of work for collecting and disposing;
  • Suppliers’ previous experience;
  • Quality of equipment/remote monitoring;
  • Experience and training of personnel;
  • Copies of all state/federal licenses and permits;
  • Detailed emergency prevention and response plan;
  • Whether transportation is performed by supplier or outsourced;
  • Any pending litigation;
  • Sanitizing methods; and
  • Additional disposal facility fees.

The best case scenario is to develop new processes that will help you change behaviors within the facility, ultimately leading to more environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient ways of eliminating waste.

Want more information? Find out more about Premier’s environmental leadership program.

Author information

Donna Craft

Donna Craft

Supply chain director at Premier, Inc.

I’m a supply chain director from Kannapolis, NC who plans, manages and leads supply chain teams and programs for facilities, environmental services and construction. When I’m not working, you’ll find me with family on the lake or watching and cheering at some sporting event. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


The post Waste Not, Want Not: How to Manage Your Medical Waste appeared first on Action For Better Healthcare.

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