The sustainability of our planet is everybody’s business. From re-using our shopping bags to re-filling printer ink cartridges, reducing waste is key to preserving valuable natural resources, landfill space and energy.
Aside from our personal responsibilities in everyday domestic life, many industries have an astronomically high rate of consumption; 24 million tonnes of waste is produced annually by corporations in the UK alone.
Any responsible company will, therefore, take it upon themselves to examine which materials they use, and the proportion of waste they produce as a result.
Although hospital settings are focused on care as opposed to consumerism, they still must use a wide array of products to provide a reliable service.
In health care facilities, up to 25 pounds of waste is estimated to be produced per day, per patient. It’s a colossal amount, especially when you consider that the NHS deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.
A persistent issue for healthcare providers is how they deal with waste. Significant concerns over hygiene and risk of infection mean that many items cannot be reused, so environmental factors must be weighed up carefully alongside practical needs within the institution.
Pulp macerators provide an environmentally-friendly solution to waste management and infection control.
Single-use medical pulp products are the most hygienic way to deal with human waste at a healthcare facility. Unlike reusable bedpans, they don’t require any kind of washing, so the risk of cross-contamination between the vessel, clinician and patient is dramatically reduced.
Used pulp items are disposed of in a pulp macerator; a series of blades cut the items into fine particles, which can then be flushed through the sewerage system.
Although it may initially seem wasteful to use an item and then throw it away (especially when you consider how many would be needed in a day), pulp products such as bedpans and urine bottles aren’t contributing to deforestation through mass production. Rather, they’re made entirely from recycled paper materials, such as newspapers, magazines and cardboard.
Despite using water to dispose of pulp, macerators don’t create waste here, either.
Once the waste and pulp have been pulverised by the macerator they travel easily through the normal sewerage system. This leads to a water treatment plant where pulp is filtered out of the water and into ‘sludge’, which is then turned into agricultural fertiliser.
So, nothing is wasted or contributing to a bigger ecological problem; rather, it helps to sustain other essential businesses which underpin our everyday needs.
For more information, take a look at our infographic which explains the full lifecycle of medical pulp.
Similarly, pulp macerators are often kinder to the environment than other waste management solutions.
Washing bedpans by hand, in particular, requires far more resources in terms of water, heat and time than a macerator does; and that’s before you consider the fact it’s far more likely to result in the spread of HCAIs, as well as being extremely unpleasant for clinicians.
No matter how careful your clinicians aim to be, washing by hand invariably produces a spread of bacteria via steam (but you’re still unlikely to be able to get the water hot enough to actually kill pathogens), as well as the often unavoidable backsplash.
Macerators require comparatively little water, as well as being exceptionally clean; a motion sensor or foot cup is used to open the machine before pulp products and their contents are placed inside. Absolutely no contact is required – before, during or after maceration.
Once the macerator starts its cycle, the clinician need have no further contact with unpleasant and potentially hazardous waste. The macerator chamber is even given a refreshing final disinfection rinse before it’s used again.
Very little waste, as well as very little risk or exposure, make pulp macerators the obvious choice for healthcare institutions across the globe; sanitary for today, sustainable for tomorrow.
Interested in finding out more about pulp macerators and how they can benefit your facility? Contact us now.
 Department of Health, Chief Executive’s report to the NHS: December 2005