23.3.4 Recycling and reuse of healthcare waste
What is the difference between reuse and recycling of waste?
Reuse means using the same item again and again without changing its physical form or appearance. Recycling of waste requires processing of some sort, usually in another location, to create a new and different product.
Reuse of some healthcare waste such as glassware is possible but only after cleaning and disinfection. Items should be immersed in a 0.5% chlorine solution for 10 minutes and carefully washed with a brush and soap, rinsed and dried before use. During the disinfection process, you should always protect your hands with appropriate gloves. It is also recommended that you autoclave the glassware at 121oC for at least 30 minutes after washing to ensure complete sterilisation/disinfection (see Section 23.4.1). Only unbroken glassware should be reused; if it is broken it will be sharp waste and must be disposed of.
Materials such as non-contaminated glass and plastic items can be recycled. Recycling may increase the segregation criteria and require more effort on your part because separate containers are needed for materials to be recycled.