Everything made and manufactured eventually reaches the end of its lifespan. For most consumers, that means throwing things in the trash or donating to a local thrift store.
But what about large, technical hospital equipment? Thousands of hospitals around the country are stocked full of items like hospital beds, surgical tables, and tons of different equipment that isn’t designed to last forever.
In fact, with constant innovation happening every year, new models are making old models obsolete much quicker. This poses two problems for hospitals; paying to upgrade equipment and getting rid of the old stuff.
You can’t throw used hospital equipment in the landfill. So where does it go? Keep reading to find out now.
The Problem With Medical Waste
The medical industry, both globally and nationwide, is massive. And it’s a resource-intensive industry. For every doctor, nurse, patient, and everyone in-between, there are a lot of supplies used and a lot of equipment needed to provide adequate care.
And with massive resources come massive waste. In fact, hospitals alone produce more than five million tons of waste per year. That’s about 29 pounds of waste per day, for every single hospital bed.
Unfortunately, as hospitals take care of people, they are often harming the planet. With that much waste entering landfills each year, hospitals, along with the rest of the medical industry, need to move towards more sustainable initiatives to preserve our environment.
When it comes down to it, having healthy people doesn’t mean much when the planet is being destroyed.
Solutions for Hospitals
Because hospitals are so big, implementing eco-friendly initiatives is tough and slow. It often means focusing on just one thing at a time.
One of the easiest places for hospitals to start is with their used medical equipment. Medical recycling is vital because it takes a lot of resources to produce high-tech machinery.
Plus, throwing it away after just a few years of use means wasting money. Instead, hospitals should be intentional with medical recycling.
Auctioning Hospital Equipment
No, there isn’t a facility nearby where you can just drop tons of equipment off too for it to be recycled like you can with cans and bottles.
But recycling large equipment, like used hospital beds, is almost as easy. There are platforms available today that allow hospitals to list their used equipment, such as beds, for auction.
This allows buyers, which are typically smaller hospitals that have lower budgets, to bid on the equipment. Once sold, the selling hospital receives their funds and the buyer picks up their new-to-them equipment.
It’s the circular economy and it works for the medical industry too.
Now, hospitals with a surplus of equipment, or those upgrading to newer models, can recoup some of their investment by reselling. And you save thousands of pounds of waste from ending up in the landfill.
Selling Equipment to Resellers
If you have a large amount of equipment you’d like to recycle but don’t want to list each item individually, there are resellers who will buy your lot of equipment as a whole.
Their goal is typically to refurbish the equipment, then sell it for more to smaller hospitals or other businesses later on. When you sell your equipment this way, you’ll typically make less money.
However, you can get rid of a lot of stuff much faster, only having to work with one company or buyer. If you aren’t as concerned with pennies and dimes, and just need to free up space in your hospital, this can be a great way to clear out old equipment.
Recycling Used Hospital Equipment
What if you have broken items, or supplies that aren’t quite worth reselling? Things like extra materials, spare parts, and things like that? They are still worth recycling, you just won’t be able to sell them.
Instead, you can find local businesses that are experts at clearing out junk and waste. Oftentimes, they are recycling experts. They can break down equipment into reusable materials. For example, metal products or parts can generally be sold by the pound, to be recycled into new metal materials.
So they aren’t going to pay you for your stuff, but they will take it off your hands and ensure you that everything that can be recycled, will be recycled.
Donate Used Medical Equipment
Another way to recycle your medical equipment is to donate it to charitable organizations. There are a number of organizations that stock up on medical supplies and equipment.
Then, they loan this equipment out to individuals who have specialized needs at home, but can’t afford to purchase their own equipment. For example, if someone needs a hospital bed or wheelchair at their home for a period of time, this organization will help to provide it.
Obviously, you won’t make any money when donating your equipment. But you can receive a receipt for all that you donate, which can work as a tax deduction.
Plus, you’ll be proud to know that your old equipment is still being used to help those who need it most.
Other Materials to Recycle at Hospitals
Once you know how to recycle your largest, most cumbersome items, it’s time to tackle some of the other most important areas of waste. Most of the waste generated by hospitals is considered non-hazardous.
This means there are strict regulations on how it’s disposed of. Much of this can be recycled.
One of the biggest offenders is paper waste. Hospital paper waste includes office paper, cardboard, newspaper, and other sources of recyclable paper. Implementing a paper recycling system is one of the simplest, most cost-effective, and most impactful ways to lower a hospital’s carbon footprint.
Aside from paper, plastic, food waste, and linens all make up a large portion of hospital waste. A true environmentally friendly hospital might invest in a composting program that supports local farms, keeping the circular economy going.
Make the Commitment to Recycle
There’s no shortage of waste when it comes to managing hospitals. With so much activity and so many resources required to take care of people, it’s understandable.
But recycling things like hospital equipment, paper, and other medical supplies isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It just takes a commitment, a dedicated team of people, and a strategy to make it happen.
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