Healthcare facilities have made great strides in recent years toward revamping materials procurement, use and disposal strategies and practices — as well as minimizing greenhouse gas emissions — in order to operate more sustainably. Unfortunately, issues forced onto facilities by the COVID-19 pandemic are creating potentially huge issues for the environment.
The very materials protecting people from COVID-19 infection over the last year could cause long-term harm to public health and the planet, according to The Providence Journal. The issue is the sheer volume of medical waste generated by the pandemic.
In the country's more than 6,000 hospitals, healthcare workers have gone through multiple masks, gloves and protective gowns each day. Since mid-December, workers in the United States have administered more than 167 million coronavirus vaccine doses, with each individual dose coming with a needle and syringe and multiple doses coming with vials and packaging.
Tons of COVID-related waste – including personal protective equipment, masks, sharps and nose swabs – end up in landfills often after being exposed to various treatment processes, including autoclaving and incineration. The treatment and disposal of medical waste is regulated by both federal and state governments.See the latest posts on our homepage