Medical Waste Recycling? Does it Happen?

Reduce, reuse, recycle doesn’t always apply to the medical waste field.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. That is the EPA’s motto for protecting our environment, but this adage doesn’t always apply to the medical waste field.

Medical waste has a different set of rules when it comes to disposal and reusing because of its very nature. The Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 clearly defines items that fall under this category, including potentially infectious materials.

While recycling items is certainly more green for the planet, medical waste is a bit of a gray area. Typically, medical waste is sterilized and then disposed in a sanitary landfill. Wildlife can still access this medical waste and water can still leak into the ground, so it still poses as an environmental issue.

One of the more debated topics in the medical waste removal field, however, is how to process single-use medical devices and their ability to be repurposed, not so much recycled.

The term itself is a bit of a misnomer; to label a device as single-use is at the sole discretion of the manufacturer. The FDA doesn’t exactly make it much clearer what constitutes a single-use device.  An institution that reuses a single-use device should be able to prove that the device can be properly cleaned and sterilized, that the physical characteristics or quality of the device will not be compromised, and that the device remains safe and effective for the intended clinical use.

Reprocessing is strictly an economic choice. All evidence shows that single-use devices reprocessed in accordance with FDA’s requirements are safe and effective. Besides being just as safe as original equipment, reprocessing keeps tons of medical waste from filling community landfills, and saves money for local hospitals.

Other items that can easily be recycled are plastic items, such as IV bags, which can be melted down, therefore sterilized, and made anew.

Red Bags can help your facility understand the ins and outs of single-use devices and medical waste recycling. Our OSHA training program will give you the tools to manage every aspect of OSHA compliance. With our reduced costs, there is not a more complete & affordable program for your facility.

Medical Waste Recycling

Service Areas: Long Island Medical Waste; New York City Medical Waste; Westchester Medical Waste and more!