Last updated on January 24, 2019
On April 22, people across the globe will celebrate Earth Day and learn about ways to promote environmental sustainability. At Sharps Compliance, however, we treat every day as Earth Day by helping waste generators with safe collection, transport, treatment, and diversion from landfills.
Landfills Affect Health and Quality of Life
Living near a solid waste landfill can be unpleasant. Heavy truck traffic creates noise and congestion. Proximity to a high volume landfill (500 tons of waste per day) can lower nearby property values by almost 14%. Even worse, people who live near landfills often report health problems:
- Authorities in New York are investigating health-related issues on Staten Island that may have been caused by the Fresh Kills landfill through air pollution and leaching of chemical waste into the groundwater. Citizens cited “higher-than-average rates of certain cancers, respiratory illnesses, and developmental disorders” when requesting the study.
- In 2016, a landfill in Camden was found to be contaminating groundwater. It was declared a “large quantity generator of hazardous waste” after it accepted hazardous materials from all over the country, including diesel fuel from a Superfund
- Authorities in Michigan are studying 35 Kent County dumping sites suspected of contaminating groundwater.
Landfill workers are also subject to risks. They may experience health problems from exposure to various biological and chemical agents, but also experience a high rate of physical injuries from the job. The injury and death rates for landfill and materials recycling workers is on the rise, and the industry is looking at ways to make the jobs safer. One study revealed that over 70 percent of workers received cuts or scratches from blood-contaminated materials and 20 percent received needlestick injuries.
Sharps Compliance Strives to Be a Zero Landfill Company
Landfill diversion is one of the safest, most cost-effective ways to protect the environment and workers. Sharps Compliance, an industry leader in sustainability and innovation, has been finding ways to divert our customers’ medical waste streams from landfills for almost a decade.
Sharps created the TakeAway Recycle System for healthcare organizations, such as surgery centers to divert certain single-use medical devices (SUD) from the landfill. Improperly-managed used SUDs represent a health and liability hazard to waste generators. Our TakeAway system allows generators to store and transport SUDs safely to be recycled instead of disposed of in landfills, treated as medical waste, or reprocessed for reuse.
We can all imagine how much medical waste healthcare facilities generate. But some may be surprised to know that home users who self-inject, dispose of almost 3 billion needles and syringes each year. Many people don’t realize the dangers used syringes pose, so they place them in the household trash or recycle bins. Even if placed in plastic containers first, those containers can burst open, releasing syringes and exposing recycling and landfill workers to needlesticks and infectious diseases. Landfills and recycling centers are seeing “unprecedented increases” in the number of potentially biohazardous sharps, such as syringes, hypodermic needles, and injectors.
Sharps Compliance helps both businesses and home users comply with state regulations and guidelines and protect their communities. At CompleteNeedle.com, home users purchase convenient mailers to dispose of sharps waste safely and economically. Healthcare organizations will find a diverse selection of solutions to fit the type and volume of wastes they generate.
Pharmaceutical waste can enter the water supply when people flush unused medications. Also, if drugs are placed in the trash, they can leach into the groundwater. Even if the drugs are dissolved or degraded in some way first, the drugs’ chemical components may still be active and can contaminate groundwater. Our TakeAway Medication Recovery envelopes are a safe and convenient option designed to help individuals keep both their unused or unwanted controlled and noncontrolled medications out of our landfills and out of our water supply.
Waste-to-Energy a Win/Win
Sharps Compliance is always looking for new and better ways to protect the environment. Our patented Waste Conversion Process helps us enhance environmental sustainability by turning medical waste, including syringes and needles, into clean energy.
When medical waste is sent to our facilities, it undergoes a three-step process:
- We scan and weigh all medical waste to comply with regulatory reporting requirements.
- We treat the medical waste with autoclave sterilization that renders the waste noninfectious, so it’s free of bacteria and other potentially infectious agents.
- We shred the treated non-infectious waste to make it unrecognizable.
The waste is then ready to be used for energy – replacing coal and other fossil fuels. This Waste-to-Energy (WtE) process is sometimes called Energy-from-Waste (EfW).
Sharps’ Waste Conversion Process is a safe, technologically-advanced alternative to landfill disposal. It helps reduce greenhouse gases while generating clean energy. It’s an important part of our corporate commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability. Since 2010, Sharps has diverted from landfills more than 11.9 million pounds of waste generated by more than 11,500 businesses and households.
Even small efforts make a difference. Look at the results when just one ton of waste is diverted from landfills and turned into renewable energy:
- AVOIDS releasing 1 ton of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases
- GENERATES 550 kWh of renewable electricity – enough to power an average home for a month
- REDUCES the need for 42 gallons of fuel oil
- RECOVERS 50 pounds of metals for recycling instead of sending it to a landfill
Contact us at Sharps Compliance to learn more about how we can help you safely and sustainably manage your medical waste. In addition to medical waste management, Sharps offers management for hazardous waste treatment, universal waste recycling, and compliance documentation and training for businesses.