While it is frequently difficult to reduce hazard at a fundamental level, both quantity and hazard level of bulk waste can often be reduced by judicious segregation. That is why we are always preaching segregation at Malsparo. Keep hazardous and infectious waste separate from non-hazardous waste to prevent contaminating that waste and increasing your total waste costs. Garden-variety waste is pretty easy to dispose of.
Most establishments that produce waste that must be disposed of ship that waste off-site. However, the generator can sometimes do an initial treatment while the waste is still on site. While this might not be a final solution for disposal, treatment can leave the waste less risky for on-site storage and less costly for further treatment and disposal.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the biggest risk, society-wide, of medical waste causing disease comes from microbiological wastes, while sharps offer the greatest risk for injuries.
Why is waste management difficult? Because the waste is heterogeneous. That is the biggest factor. Heterogeneity drives costs and red tape. Yes, some waste is dangerous to people and the environment. But a consistent waste stream, even if very hazardous/infectious/radioactive, can be managed. It’s when there is variety that a monkeywrench is thrown in. Variety increases costs for collection, storage, treatment, and disposal.
Surprise: it’s medical waste! Unexpected waste produces headaches and costs, too.
If we consider medical waste overall, 15 to 20 percent is regulated. The rest can be classified as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) - what we call it in the United States. MSW is heterogeneous, too. Look at what you throw out at your home every week. It's got all manner of material in it. But, if you don't put anything in the garbage you shouldn't, it can all go to the landfill and nobody objects.
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