Create a Medical Waste Recycling Plan

The people involved with developing a recycling plan may include the waste manager, the facilities manager, and the general manager. For small facilities these job functions may be done by the same person. The plan should take into account the historic and expected rate of waste production, the type of waste that is produced that is eligible for recycling, and the practicality of collecting and segregating these wastes. A waste audit is useful before a plan is established.

Waste Audits

An audit gives you an idea of how waste you generate in each category, and how the generation rate varies with time. You can get this information from facility operation logs and from interviews with employees.

One of the benefits of keeping good records of waste production and shipment is that it makes auditing your waste more accurate and easier

In a waste audit:

  • You take samples of waste, identifying type and density
  • You establish a baseline of data
  • You analyze collection and recycling practices and determine their effectiveness;
  • You identify potential waste minimization and recycling opportunities.

A facility walk-through can spur simple yet effective waste reduction and recycling ideas.

During the walk-through, note:

  • The layout and operations of various departments
  • The types and relative amounts of waste generated
  • • Inefficiencies in operations that might result in excess waste
  • Existing waste and recycling equipment
  • Current waste reduction and recycling efforts

Information can also be obtained through interviews with employees

Next sit down and figure out source reduction and reuse options. Determine what can be recycled. Possibilities include:

  • Paper and cardboard
  • Glass items
  • Metal of any sort
  • Wood items

Note that any materials that have been in contact with regulated waste (e.g. hazardous, radioactive, or infectious) are ineligible for recycling. This is a major reason to practice segregation in your waste collection.

One big obstacle in getting recycling going is having places for your people to put waste that can be recycled. Buying bins and labeling them for recycling and placing them through the facility might do it. Decide on the color of bin - say dark green - to recycling so employees will quickly be able to tell which is for recyclables and be less likely to put the wrong kind of waste in those bins. Empty the recycle bins on a regular basis, moving the waste to a central container, perhaps near the dumpster for MSW.

Look for companies and non-profits in the area which may have a use for your recycled items. If there are none, find a company that explicitly takes away waste to be recycled. This is likely different from your medical waste hauler. It might be the same as your MSW company, but some MSW disposal firms do not take recycling,