BLOG – Delivering sustainable solutions

Tom Jordan, Environmental Adviser at Stericycle discusses how we deliver sustainable solutions and shares his top tips to segregating healthcare waste more efficiently.

As a resource management company, we handle over 150,000 tonnes of waste a year. From sharps from hospitals to industrial chemicals, all the way to the waste our offices produce. Stericycle always offers its customers the very best advice and solutions to their segregation issues.

One of the ways we do this is through Pre-Acceptance Waste Audits. This is a service we offer to our customers where either I, or one of our other dedicated auditors will complete a healthcare customer’s annual waste audit.

Poor segregation not only flags as a non-compliance but can also have several environmental knock on effects. For example, mixing clinical bags for incineration in a waste cart with orange bags for treatment and tagging that bin as suitable for treatment will require SRCL to retag that bin at the treatment plant and transport it to an incinerator.

Stericycle uses a market leading vehicle telematics system to monitor and analyse our fleet movements. Vehicle emissions make up over 50% of our total emissions and we are constantly working to lessen our impacts. Having to route extra vehicles to transport inappropriate waste increases these impacts, so providing a waste audit service allows us to see first-hand how our customers are segregating the waste we collect. We can then offer them solutions, to not only be more compliant and environmentally friendly but also save money on unnecessary charges, such as inappropriate waste fees.

Easy tips on how to segregate healthcare waste more efficiently:

  • Ensure staff who move healthcare waste are trained in using our Bio Track labels – this will ensure different waste types are not mixed in the waste carts
  • Ensure domestic, not clinical waste, bags are next to all hand washing sinks – the biggest reoccurring minor non-conformance are paper hand towels consigned as clinical waste
  • Ensure a list of hazardous medicines is available to staff in clean utility and drug preparation rooms. Some commonly used medicines such as Chloramphenicol are actually Cytotoxic and must be disposed of in purple lidded sharps containers
  • Certain areas such as Ophthalmology, Sexual Health and Delivery Suites will definitely produce hazardous medicines (Chloramphenicol, Depo-Provera and Oxytocin respectively) – ensure purple lidded containers are always available in these areas to avoid major non-conformances
  • Don’t over complicate things. A bay on an orthopaedic ward will not be producing much soft clinical waste as the patients are unlikely to be infected. A tiger, an orange and a black bag is likely to confuse busy staff. Lose the orange bag – infected patients are likely to treated in isolation and orange bags will always be available in your dirty utility if needed
  • Review your waste policy frequently and ensure it requires that all hospital staff receive waste segregation training on induction and at regular intervals
  • Use us! We are happy to help with any segregation and disposal queries you may have. Contact your Account Manager or our Customer Services team for more – likewise use the posters available on our website on your bins and disposal areas. The right poster on the right bin will help your staff segregate more compliantly

More from SRCL

The Stericycle Environmental Sustainability Report 2016 is now available! To request your copy please complete your details, here.