As with many industries, costs are rising and clinical waste* disposal is no exception – price rises driven by inflation and landfill tax, operational cost increases are prevalent. The issue is compounded by a lack of major, national suppliers which reduces competition.
In addition, many businesses could make cost savings in this area through several effective contract management methods. Our experience tells us that there is a great deal of issues that is impacting on prices paid. Overcomplicated procurement and contract management processes, ambiguous pricing from suppliers that is subject to change over time, a lack of clarity on contract deliverables coupled with poor monitoring and communication as well as frequent failures in agreed service levels all impact on cost management.
The good news is that there are cost-saving opportunities within this area for those organisations that wish to pursue them. Segregation has always been at the heart of keeping costs down and has long been a thorn in a healthcare managers side when dealing with clinical waste. Cost implications vary depending on the waste generated and this area still creates confusion and potentially much larger waste bills than are necessary. The importance of segregating offensive waste from infectious waste to minimise costs is a process which we often identify is failing.
One key method to achieving cost-savings is the adoption of emerging technologies and keeping ahead of global and national market movements.
Developments in the healthcare sector for disposing of clinical waste are driven by significant changes in healthcare practices and growing appreciation of environmental issues. Clinical waste disposal suppliers are also under pressure from their customers to identify disposal routes that are better for the environment. This isn’t always easy as regulations that govern the disposal of waste specify the waste disposal routes that must be followed. However, examples exist where utilising emerging technologies has resulted in success.
An example of note, is that of Sanitary waste; previously some of the only options available to dispose of waste streams such as this has been high temperature incineration and landfill, with the former unlikely to generate energy to be re-used. Technological innovation in this area using thermal disinfection systems that treat sanitary waste and other clinical waste streams has in some cases both reduced costs and increased environmental credentials while maintaining compliance with legislation.
The UK is a significant generator of waste – the NHS for instance creates 590,000 tonnes a year – more than the entire municipal waste from some European countries like Cyprus and Luxembourg. The Government’s chief medical adviser has called for innovative solutions to reduce this pollution. It is only through an innovative approach to clinical waste management, understanding the current trends in the market, being aware of new technologies and ensuring good contract management that we are able to help our clients save money in this area.
*Clinical Waste includes waste such as Sharps bins, Infectious, Offensive or Sanitary Waste.
Article by: Daniel Howells