March 28, 2022

Medical Waste Management and Environmental Impact

Workplace practices and standards in a healthcare setting can shape a healthcare organization’s ability to deliver quality care as well as limit their effect on the environment. Stericycle’s Healthcare Workplace Safety Trend Report reveals crucial insights on healthcare workers’ perspectives of the impact of medical waste on the environment and steps healthcare organizations can take to create a healthier and safer environment.

In addition to promoting safety and well-being at the point of care, effective waste management is critical to protecting the environment and the broader community. The impact of medical waste on the environment was found to be top of mind by those surveyed, with 6 in 10 providers (63%) and administrators (61%) reporting they think about the environmental impacts of biohazardous waste often.

And it’s no surprise that it is a concern for healthcare workers. Modeling of greenhouse gas emissions shows that U.S. healthcare emissions rose six percent from 2010 to 2018. Of all the sectors in the industrialized world, the healthcare industry is among the most carbon-intensive sectors,  generating 4.4% of the world’s greenhouse gases. As well, healthcare organizations are estimated to account for approximately 10% of annual carbon dioxide emissions.

The vast majority of both providers (94%) and administrators (95%) surveyed believe improper biohazardous waste management has a detrimental impact on the environment. In addition, more than 90% of both providers (96%) and administrators (91%) feel that improper pharmaceutical waste management also has a negative impact on the environment.

The rise of at-home care is beneficial to convenient patient care; however, it exposes a gap in medical waste management protocols. Of those surveyed, 1 in 4 providers (26%) who have worked in an at-home setting state that they are not confident that they know how to dispose of biohazardous waste in a safe manner.

While the generation of medical waste is an unavoidable byproduct of patient care, steps can be taken to limit a

healthcare organization’s impact on the environment. Download our infographic to learn about workplace safety and how Stericycle can help you protect what matters.

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