It is becoming increasingly clear that we all need to do our bit to minimise our impact on the environment. Alongside this, in healthcare settings, another modern challenge is the spread of infection, and the growing rate of antimicrobial resistance.1 Ensuring correct waste segregation and disposal can help address both of these issues.
The time is now for greener business
The UK has made significant progress towards becoming an eco-friendly nation, but there is still work to be done. Research has revealed that although we are eco-conscious, many individuals have dropped some of their green behaviours. Surveys suggest that people are now using more single-use plastic items, and recycling less than they were before the pandemic.2
Behaviours that are harmful to the environment such as the improper disposal of plastic waste continue to occur. Estimates suggest that 1.7 million tonnes of plastic from the UK ends up in the sea every year.
Correct waste disposal ensures that it’s far less likely that waste items will find their way into the natural environment. When materials are properly segregated and waste is taken care of using a high-quality, reliable waste service, you can be sure it will end up exactly where it should be, minimising any impact it has on the environment.
Waste segregation and antimicrobial resistance
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that certain infections, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea and salmonellosis, are quickly becoming more resistant to the antibiotics used to treat them. If this should continue, there’s every chance that in the future we will be faced with infectious diseases that cannot be cured using known methods.3
Antimicrobial resistance is accelerated by the misuse of antibiotics. As healthcare settings are a prime place for the spread of infection, it makes sense for businesses to protect against disease transmission as much as possible. This way, there is less chance for people to need antibiotics and other measures, helping to prevent antimicrobial evolution.
How does waste disposal prevent illness spreading?
Although uncommon, transmission of bloodborne and other infectious diseases is certainly possible when waste isn’t segregated and disposed of properly. For instance, if a syringe used to treat an infected patient should find itself in general domestic waste, there’s a chance that someone handling the waste bag may receive a needlestick injury and contract whatever disease the needle is contaminated with.
The Department of Health’s colour coding guide to best practice waste disposal is a perfect guide to waste segregation. However, with so many waste streams in the average business, it can be difficult to remember what type of waste should go where.
Initial Medical provides a solution that makes segregation simple – colour code posters. Available in both a standard design and fun, unique colour code character variation, these posters can be displayed around your setting to help your staff remember what waste goes where! Download your FREE posters here.
A greener, healthier future
The way you approach your waste can have a huge impact on the future. By choosing reliable waste services and following the colour code, you can do your bit to ensure that your business is greener and that you are helping to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
1 WHO. Antibiotic Resistance. Link: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance#:~:text=Antibiotic%20resistance%20occurs%20naturally%2C%20but,treat%20them%20become%20less%20effective. [Last accessed November 22].
2 Circular. Study: Pandemic has made UK people more ‘environmentally conscious’ – but ‘green’ behaviours have dipped. Link: https://www.circularonline.co.uk/news/study-pandemic-has-made-uk-people-more-environmentally-conscious-but-green-behaviours-have-dipped/ [Last accessed November 22].
3 WHO. Antibiotic Resistance. Link: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance#:~:text=Antibiotic%20resistance%20occurs%20naturally%2C%20but,treat%20them%20become%20less%20effective. [Last accessed November 22].