MEDICAL WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLATFORM
The total annual volume of medical waste generated in the United States is currently estimated to be approximately 465,000 tons (1998 estimation) Solid waste generated per person per day in hospital facilities has been estimated to range from 10 to 25 pounds, of which approximately 10-15% is classified as “infectious” under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines the annual rate of growth in the volume of medical waste generated is estimated to be 7-10%.
Estimated that the costs associated with removal of the 465,000 tons of medical waste generated annually in the United States are approximately $1 billion (1998 report) EPA estimates that the costs for a comprehensive medical waste tracking system are an additional 8 cents per pound. A figure disputed by the American Hospital Association, which estimates such costs at an additional 28 to 58 cents per pound
Existing Methods for Disposal:
Most common methods of treating medical waste are incineration, and autoclaving. Costs approximately 10 to 15 cents per pound of medical waste – 1998 estimation – (does not include costs associated with new environmental clean act measures)
Incineration is not Feasible:
Incineration is expensive and prices are going up
Closure the country’s commercial medical waste incinerators by EPA and Department of Justice is under way. Increased federal regulation, and public pressure will pave the way for more environmentally friendly technologies.
Skyrocketing fuel costs, and class action lawsuits associated with incineration process will ensure that the prices will continue to rise.
Incinerators Emit Dioxins and Mercury:
Medical waste incinerators are one of the nation’s leading emissions sources of persistent, toxic, bio accumulative pollutants like dioxins and mercury Dioxins are a family of complex, but related molecules with similar chemical structures. These highly toxic substances persist for long periods in the environment, where they bioaccumulate in living tissues. The dioxins can weaken the immune system and interfere with the endocrine system, which is responsible for making hormones needed to regulate bodily functions. Medical waste incinerators must meet the emission limit set at 0.1 ng TEQ/m3 for dioxins and furans. U.S. EPA’s 1995 dioxins emissions inventory estimated that medical waste incineration was the nation’s third largest dioxins source emitting 15% of all the dioxins on the national inventory.
The prevalence of chlorine-containing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic products in medical waste is one contributor to dioxins formation – studies show that increasing the amount of chlorine or chlorine-containing PVC in a particular combustor (like a specific medical waste incinerator) increases its dioxins emissions
Autoclaves Literally a Smoke Screen Technology:
The autoclave emissions for a normal medical waste load from a hospital during cooling cycle produces the following volatile organic compounds: xylenes, ethyl benzene, toluene, carbon disulfide, acetone, and styrene. The autoclave technology has had its number of issues that prevent proper sterilization proceeds; condensate issues (wet loads) in their chamber post-sterilization impeding satisfactory processing results. The water from the autoclave during the process is a cesspool of endotoxins that contaminate the surrounding area. Key members of the FDA and the autoclave industry serve on a joint committee called the ANSI/AAMI ST55.
Endotoxins have been a growing concern and discussed heavily in recent years, primarily because the human immune system does not know how to get rid of them. “Think of an amoeba. When that amoeba dies, not only its carcass, but its excretions are left behind as endotoxins.” states Chuck Fishelson of Alfa Medical. Endotoxin is invariably associated with Gram-negative bacteria, regardless of whether the organisms are pathogenic. Although the term is occasionally used to refer to any cell-associated bacterial toxin, in bacteriology it is properly reserved to refer to this lipopolysaccharide complex. Gram-negative bacteria containing these endotoxins include Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas, Neisseria, Haemophiles influenzae, Bordetella pertussis, and Vibrio cholerae boiling for 30 minutes does not destabilize endotoxins.
How to Recuperate Cost Associated with Medical Waste:
Many times, State Laws define the regulations for how a hospital must handle and dispose of their regulated medical waste and hazardous waste. A hospital can typically generate up to 10-12 separate waste streams, which require multiple lines of vendors to handle each waste stream, will add to the various types of containers/equipment required to dispose of the waste, and will require hospitals to train their medical staff on proper handling of these waste streams. The financial savings start with a consolidation of all vendors to one – C-SYSTEMS for all waste disposal and streamline the process to a local facility. Thus, historically transporting and disposing hazardous waste out of state which is cost prohibitive is eliminated when all waste can be processed locally by closed loop C-SYSTEMS. Formulating a purchasing/supplemental (clean renewable energy) electricity agreement with 4th Generation Energy is cost reduction strategy instead of paying the going rate with local power company
C-SYSTEMS has the resources and technology to implement a significant financial savings on medical waste upon a formal contract agreement. The sum of all medical waste plus any that where not mentioned utilizing the C-SYSTEMS program as sole waste management organization will reduce expenditures from 15 to 40%. A viable solution for all waste venues handled by one entity.
Average National Cost Figures for Medical Waste:
MEDICAL SOLID WASTE (MSW)
The average cost to dispose of MSW in a hospital is approximately $250 – $300 per bed. Example: Given a 661 hospital bed facility, the annual MSW cost totals $198,300 @ $300 per bed.
The plastics that are most common in hospitals are listed below:
Tyvek plastic wrap – this generally makes up 50% of the plastic waste from pre-patient operating rooms.
IV bags – many times these items are discarded in the MSW waste containers. If the average 600-bed hospital could focus on the blue wrap and polypropylene plastics in just the Operating Room Departments that would average 14,000 – 17,000 lbs. per month (6.5 to 8.7 tons monthly). This would equate to approximately $280 – $400 per month.
REGULATED MEDICAL WASTE
The national average is approximately $350-$500 per bed.
Example #1- (661 bed) at $500 per bed = $330,500 per year based on national average.
Example #2 – Actual waste output 240 cubic yards per week or 64.8 tons per week 64.8 tons x $684 (minimum rate) per ton x 52 weeks= $2,304,806.40 a year expenditure * Does not factor for hauling, and shredding fees if they apply. Biohazard waste contributes to 15% of an average hospitals waste stream and the average cost is about 20% higher than regular solid waste.
This waste is comprised of food waste, paper trash, anything that environmental / housekeeping services collects throughout the hospital.
Example: 160 cubic yards per week or 43.2 tons per week
43.2 tons x $60 per ton x 52 week = $134,784 expenditure per year
Universal waste is the largest growing need in hospitals based on the volumes they generate and the regulatory requirements to properly dispose of them. These types of waste cannot be disposed of in your solid waste stream or placed in landfills. Your hospital runs the potential risk of hefty fines imposed by the EPA if you are caught placing these items in a landfill. The typical cost range for this waste is $ 0.75 – $1.00 per pound.