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Less is more when it comes to clinical waste

Advice from Grundon on maximising recycling opportunities

Andy Murrill



01635 886625

Less is more when it comes to clinical waste

THE more you put in your recycling bin the more you actually recycle.

This straightforward statement should be true, but as the old adage goes, less is more.

At the turn of this decade, China was the largest importer of recyclable material, regardless of its quality.

In February 2013 however, Operation Green Fence ignited China’s fight against poor quality imports, placing the emphasis on companies like Grundon to send only the best quality material for recycling.

Given that Government figures show more than 200,000 tonnes of plastic and more than 500,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard are exported from Britain to China each year, keeping contamination to an absolute minimum is a real challenge.

When recycled materials are placed in a mixed recycling bin, Grundon collects it and delivers it to its materials recovery facilities (MRFs), where state-of-the-art equipment separates the papers from the cardboard and the plastics from the metals.

These segregated materials are then baled and sent for recycling.

On arrival at one of the MRFs the waste is inspected, and any contaminated loads are sent as general waste at a cost to Grundon’s customer.

If infectious or sharps waste is found the cost can be 10-fold.

MRFs can only ever be as good as the material put in them, and that emphasises why it’s so important to get segregation right at source.

Too often, Grundon says it sees recognisable healthcare waste, such as plasters, tissues, wipes, dressings, urine and vomit bowls, plastic tubing, oxygen masks, single use plastic instruments, theatre wraps, nappies and incontinence pads placed into the recycling waste stream.

This results in expensive contamination problems.

To help tackle the problem, Grundon is working with RecoMed to trial the source segregation of valuable medical PVC items, which would normally be cause for contamination in the standard recycling waste stream.

Plastic tubing, oxygen masks, IV solution bags and single use plastic instruments are bagged separately and taken for processing where they are granulated and melted at high temperature ready for turning into new items.

Such time as this project comes to fruition, Grundon’s healthcare customers will be the first to know.

In the meantime, its plea is to keep things simple; ideally, the workplace recycling waste stream should mirror what you would expect to do at home.

Grundon’s goal is to help its customers maximise recycling opportunities and it can only do that by following the rules.

To speak to a member of its team about how Grundon can provide you with clinical waste collection and disposal as part of its total waste management service please email or telephone 01628 501 591.

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