Healthcare activities generate a broad range of waste materials, from used sharps and dressings to pharmaceuticals, chemicals, body parts and other organic waste. It has been estimated that fully one-third of all movements in a healthcare facility are related to the transport of this waste, bio hazardous and otherwise. Hence stringent waste management procedures are crucial to ensure the safe and efficient disposal of hospital waste.
According to prevailing wisdom, this starts with strict segregation at the point of generation in order to keep the risk of contamination to a minimum. However, a young Dutch company called Pharmafilter begs to differ. Why all the effort to segregate and transport the different waste streams in carts through the healthcare facility, potentially raising the risk of exposure of hospital workers, patients and visitors to hazardous materials, they asked. Why not combine everything into a single stream, treat all waste as biowaste and process it all together? At a hospital in Delft, the Netherlands, they put their idea to the test.