Waste in the healthcare sector – challenges and opportunities in waste

By 23/06/2017October 3rd, 2019News

The health and clinical sector generate a significant volume of waste and with waste costs rising each year this has meant it is increasingly being looked at more closely. In addition to disposal costs, there is a great deal of waste legislation that needs to be complied with.

So what are the leading waste companies doing to reduce costs whilst staying compliant and ensuring the smooth running of waste? Sustainable Advantage looks after over 1,500 sites across the UK where medical and clinical waste is disposed of. We wanted to share some of these experiences with you.

Clinical waste is more expensive than general waste – around double. This is before taking waste transfer note charges into account. This is due to a number of factors from specialist vehicles required through to disposal costs and administration.

Most clinical sites have a wide range of waste in addition to clinical waste:

  • General
  • Recycling
  • Food
  • Sanitary
  • Shredding
  • WEEE waste
  • To name a few

The first key step is to ensure effective segregation:

· Given clinical waste is at least double the cost of general waste we want to ensure only clinical waste ends up in these containers

· Non-clinical waste also needs to be effectively segregated as general waste is as much as 4 times as expensive as some recycled waste streams

· In some cases, waste can generate revenue

Second is to ensure that internal and external bins mirror each other and that staff are trained on how to segregate the waste and to use the correct bins

· This will keep costs down

· It will also hopefully eliminate excess weight charges and also contamination

Third is choosing the correct supplier to take each waste stream away. It’s tempting to use a national provider but these often provide a poor collection service with matching poor customer service. You may not receive the lowest rates available because of your lack of size / procurement power but approaching a number of waste companies will ensure you get the best rates you can.

Waste companies are poor at service and miss many collections. Keeping track of these is key to ensuring you don’t get charged.

Compliance is a massive issue for companies in this sector as clinical waste requires a consignment note for each movement. Each site will in addition require an annual duty of care from each supplier for regular service. The biggest issue is:

· Consignment notes are not left on site or lost if they are

· Many consignment notes are not filled in correctly, no or missing:

  1. Driver signature
  2. Client signature
  3. Waste WEWC code
  4. Client SIC code

It is a massive logistical nightmare to collect all waste transfer notes and store these for any inspections.

Reporting is critical to understand how much waste is used, how the waste is disposed of for each site and overall. Without this information it is difficult to pinpoint poorly performing sites and take action. A league table is a good source of information for multi-site clients.

This is why Sustainable provides a comprehensive waste management service – find out how we helped others.

CASE STUDY: Clinical site with over 200 sites

What do we think is possible savings wise for the average clinical or healthcare client if waste is managed properly? In our experience 10% and 20% is achievable when you appoint an expert waste management company. We have managed to save a client with over £1m in spend 30%. This has been achieved because of our bulk procurement power given Sustainable Advantage looks after over 1,500 sites where clinical waste is produced ranging from the NHS through to small hospitals, care homes and needle exchange centres. In addition our day to day analysis of the waste generated and how it is segregated has also resulted in great saving levels.

“We appointed Sustainable Advantage to manage waste services across all our 200+ sites, a number of which include clinical as well as your standard waste streams. Sustainable Advantage analysed our spend and projected savings in excess of 20%, in reality we were delighted when actually they delivered savings in excess of 30%”

Head of Procurement, CGL