What does COVID-19 mean for America’s (and other countries) medical waste landscape?

USA, 07.04.2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis which is not just affecting the USA’s healthcare system, but also our business, education, and environmental sectors too.

The impact on the healthcare industry

It’s no secret that as the number of Coronavirus cases increases, so does the volume of contaminated medical wastes, too – including masks, gloves, and gowns – all of which need disposing of in a secure and controlled manner.

Safely handling these items plays a crucial role in effectively eradicating the further spread of the virus. In fact, in Wuhan – where the initial outbreak began – along with building new hospitals to help cope with the influx of those infected, they also built medical waste plants and mobile waste treatment facilities to help deal with over 240 tons of the daily waste.

As more people become infected by the virus in the US – as is being seen by the upswing in confirmed cases in the Northeast – the more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be needed for use by frontline workers. And, countries around the world are stepping up their own safety measures for the general public too – in Austria, for example, the Government has made it compulsory to wear face masks in supermarkets,. And, the US has recently recommended that people wear face masks, as well.

While it’s crucial for the world’s leaders to implement safety precautions for key workers and the wider population, this will undoubtedly continue to put pressure on the country’s waste and recycling sector.

So, what is UNTHA doing to help?

To help combat the clinical waste crisis, we’ve stepped up our long-term partnerships with builders of infectious waste treatment systems e.g. BioSAFE Engineering – to equip the country’s medical care providers with systems that can safely and effortlessly tackle this hazardous waste stream. In a bid to help the US get ahead of the curve in battling COVID-19, we are working to keep shredders in stock for quick delivery, to try and help meet the growing demand for hazardous waste disposal equipment.

In the US, there are several ways the healthcare industry deals with its wastes; some hospitals have on-site automated disinfection systems or autoclaves, while others send waste off site to independent companies for processing and disposal. In either case, our four-shaft shredders are there to provide economical and reliable shredding for problem-free waste disposal.

Why are four-shaft shredders the preferred technology for medical waste shredding and processing?

While some companies use single-shaft machines to tackle medical waste, here at UNTHA we swear by our four-shaft technology. The RS40 is our most popular model, with the RS60 and RS100 also in use for processing larger volumes.

Compared with single-shaft shredders, where operators must frequently rotate or replace the cutters – requiring the shredder to be shut down for maintenance after every few hundred hours – the RS40 can process in excess of 3,000,000 – 4,000,000 lbs of waste per set of cutters, resulting in many more shredding hours in a month.

In addition to this increased stamina, because UNTHA’s four-shaft machines turn at a lower speed than a single-shaft shredder, they produce less dust and particle emissions – and are less likely to be damaged by the occasional unshreddable item.

Our shredders are robustly engineered – with specialized long-life cutters and integrated protection from unshreddables such as titanium joints – to perform well in a wet and aggressive environment. In addition, due to our superior sealing systems and top-feeding design, it’s easier to contain any liquids from the shredded clinical waste – affording less risk of leaking contaminated fluids.

At UNTHA, we’re well known across the globe as ‘the reliable brand’ for a reason. It’s not just for providing cutting-edge, high-performance machinery, but also our customer service and aftercare. We care about our clients and their machines for the long term and can quickly support your operation with US-stocked spare parts and factory-trained service personnel.