When faced with mounting stockpiles of hazardous clinical waste, a global pandemic, and a waste treatment infrastructure that couldn’t cope with the high volumes, it became clear to the healthcare industry that change was crucial.
In response, Sharpsmart Ltd, a UK healthcare waste management service provider, took a proactive approach to develop a patented innovation that helped redefine the sustainability landscape of healthcare waste and revolutionised sharps waste treatment with a unique solution.
For decades, fossil fuel-powered high-temperature incineration has been the industry norm for sharps waste – a carbon-intensive process with limited capacity due to ageing infrastructure.
By 2019, the struggling clinical waste incineration infrastructure was making it difficult for healthcare professionals to provide the level of care that was needed.
The sudden exit of Healthcare Environmental Services Limited in 2018 had triggered a healthcare waste crisis, resulting in thousands of tonnes of sharps and clinical waste destined for high-temperature incineration being stockpiled across the UK.
This waste was taking up valuable space on hospital sites, waste treatment facilities, and transfer stations, meanwhile, waste was being continually generated.
Just as the stockpiled waste was making its way back into circulation, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing a dramatic increase in clinical waste volumes – leaving many healthcare providers inundated with sharps and clinical waste and no outlet for disposal.
This is where Sharpsmart Ltd came in to work out a solution.
As a healthcare waste management company, Sharpsmart Ltd knew they needed to take action to meet the needs of the industry and overcome the mounting challenges being faced country-wide.
But as an environmentally driven company that holds true to its foundational values, endorsing high-temperature incineration as the only solution wasn’t an option.
Known for their industry-redefining innovations in the healthcare waste industry, Sharpsmart Ltd developed and patented the Effluent Retention System – a unique pre-treatment process for medicinally-contaminated sharps waste that renders it non-hazardous and validates it for alternative treatment as a solid recovered fuel (SRF).
It’s a closed-loop process that uses shredding, sterilisation, and a unique Effluent Retention System to ensure there’s no discharge of effluents to air or sewer throughout treatment –
The Effluent Retention System (ERS) merges environmental responsibility with healthcare efficiency and compliance with the capability of treating over 2 tonnes of hazardous sharps waste per hour.
Since Sharpsmart Ltd got their patented Effluent Retention System up and running in December 2019, they’ve processed over 8,300 tonnes of sharps waste, helping their healthcare partners to:
- Significantly reduce CO2e.
- Have peace of mind with a guaranteed sharps waste outlet.
- Divert high volumes of waste away from high-temperature incineration.
- Meet and sometimes exceed the 20-20-60 waste split set out in the NHS Clinical Waste Strategy.
Sharpsmart Ltd has recently released a paper that covers their patented Effluent Retention System in more detail, including calculations of the carbon footprint when compared with traditional treatment methods, and more insight into how the treatment process works.
Sharpsmart Ltd’s paper: The Effluent Retention System: A New Era in Sustainable Sharps Waste Treatment, can be accessed by visiting this link.