Analyses of the Recycling Potential of Medical Plastic Wastes

Analyses of the Recycling Potential of Medical Plastic Wastes

Nasreena Sajjad (University of Kashmir, India), Sumaya Hassan (University of Kashmir, India), Jasfeeda Qadir (University of Kashmir, India), Rohaya Ali (University of Kashmir, India) and Durdana Shah (University of Kashmir, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9452-9.ch010

Abstract

Medical wastes have been historically disposed of either in landfills or treated in poorly-designed or inadequately-controlled incinerators that leads to the release of a significant quantity of hazardous pollutants, such as dioxins and heavy metals including Cd, Hg and Pb in the environment. This has led to increased public concerns over the disposal of medical wastes. Plastic is one of the most important components of the medical waste. The plastic content (20–25% by weight) of medical waste is significantly higher than that of municipality solid waste. Therefore, recycling of plastics should be increased to save landfill space and also to reduce expensive disposal cost of medical wastes. The recycling issues like risk of transmitting infections, improper collection and separation, can be resolved by proper management, education and innovative waste collection and disposal policies. Analysis and use of alternative products should always be considered as an important part of any recycling program.
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Medical Waste

Medical waste is a wider term. It comprises of many different types of wastes including medical waste, regulated medical waste, infectious medical waste and hospital waste. In other words medical waste refers to all waste that is generated at any healthcare or healthcare-related facility (Khajuria et al., 2007). Contaminated syringes and needles represent a particular threat, as the failure to dispose them safely may lead to dangerous recycling and repackaging which lead to unsafe reuse. Contaminated injection equipment may be scavenged from waste areas and dumpsites and either reused or sold to be used again (Gyawali et al., 2013). Biomedical waste may be defined as any waste in the form of solid or liquid, which is generated during the treatment, diagnosis and immunization of human beings and animals in research (Baghotia, 2009). Many synonyms to medical waste exist and they are currently used interchangeably (Mehala et al., 2018). According to Moritz (1995) some of the easily used synonyms are clinical waste, hospital waste and biomedical waste. The WHO uses the term “healthcare waste” in reports and other official publications. The United States Medical Waste Tracking act of 1988 defines medical waste as “any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals”. It is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that 20 percent of these medical wastes can be classified as hazardous materials that may be infectious, toxic, or radioactive (Brichard, 2002).

Figure 1.

Classification of hospital waste

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Key Terms in this Chapter

Biodegradable Plastics (BDP): This is one of the options to the conventional plastics. The BDP are similar to conventional plastics in all aspects with the additional quality of being able to naturally decompose and break into natural and safe byproducts.

Plasticizer: Plasticizer is a material incorporated into a plastic to increase its flexibility, workability, or dispensability.

Medical Waste: Medical waste is a wider term. It comprises of many different types of wastes including medical waste, regulated medical waste, infectious medical waste and hospital waste. In other words medical waste refers to all waste that is generated at any healthcare or healthcare-related facility.

Bioplastic: A bioplastic is a plastic that is made partly or wholly from polymers derived from biological sources such as potato starch, sugar cane or the cellulose from trees, cotton and straw. Some bioplastics degrade in an open air while others are made so that they compost in an industrial composting plant, aided by bacteria, fungi and enzymes.

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