Why Special Hazardous Waste Bags are a Hospital Must-Have
Pointing out that hospitals provide lifesaving services is hardly news, but perhaps the fact that health-threatening by-products that can cause infection and illness are produced by these institutions is. It is the reason why specially-designed hazardous waste bags are as essential as medicine and technology.
It may sound painfully obvious that a hospital – or any medical or clinical service provider – would produce waste material. But what is generally overlooked is the nature of the waste produced, and just how important it is to properly segregate, adequately manage and carefully dispose of it. Regular refuse bags are not enough so there is a need for clearly labelled, durable and reliable hazardous waste bags.
It is a need that PinPak has been addressing for decades, manufacturing and distributing high-quality hazardous waste bags for hospitals and other medical institutions, often customised to meet specific requirements.
The Nature of Hospital Waste
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some 80% of waste created through health care activities is just like domestic waste, comprising discarded food, plastic, paper and cardboard. But 20% of the waste is made up of hazardous material that can be infectious, toxic or even radioactive, and which need to be treated differently.
The list of waste types that should be disposed of in hazardous waste bags is pretty extensive, but the most common includes:
- Infectious waste – this refers to waste that is contaminated with blood, body fluids cultures and infectious agents, like swabs and bandages, and includes equipment, like disposable medical devices.
- Pathological waste – this refers to body parts and animal carcasses
- Sharps – includes syringes, needles, disposable scalpels and blades
- Chemicals – includes mercury, solvents and disinfectants
- Pharmaceuticals – expired, unused, and contaminated drugs, vaccines and sera
Other material like genotoxic waste (like cytotoxic drugs used in cancer treatment), radioactive waste (like radiotherapeutic materials), and heavy metals (like broken mercury thermometers) are also included on the WHO’s list.
Specially Made To Protect
With the lengthy list of waste material considered dangerous, hazardous waste bags are an essential item for hospitals, clinics and other medical and health-related institutions. These bags are especially designed to protect more than ordinary bags, with structure, material and colour all key differences.
Structure – while regular black refuse bags can be easily torn or punctured, bags for hazardous waste are made to be much sturdier. This makes them safer, reducing the chances of a leakages or contamination. The thickness of a hazardous waste bag can range from 25um (0.025mm) to 2000um (2mm) depending on needs.
Material – the type of plastic used in these bags can also differ. Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is the most popular and is very durable, while Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) offers a higher stress rate and resistance.
Colour – usually hazardous waste bags come either in yellow or red, each highlighting a specific risk. Yellow bags contain most clinical waste, whereas red bags (sometimes purple) contain cytotoxic waste, or toxins. The bright colour means that handlers are fully aware of the care they must show, while the biohazardous or infectious waste symbol printed on the bag alerts the user to the nature of the risks involved.
PinPak Meeting Demand
Of course, it is more than just hospitals and major clinics that require durable and reliable hazardous waste bags. Tattoo parlours, health centres, dentists, veterinary clinics and a variety of other small medical-related businesses also need to carefully dispose of their waste products. PinPak has been servicing the demands of all of these businesses for almost 30 years, offering customised manufacturing capabilities and Australia-wide distribution.
For further reading on hazardous waste disposal, check out:
- Code of Practice for the Management of Clinical and Related Waste (6th Ed.)
- Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare
- Clinical and Related Waste – Operational Guidance (EPA Victoria)