Autoclaving vs incinerators – How should hospitals treat medical waste?

Autoclaving vs incinerators is a common dilemma within the medical industry. Which method should a hospital use to treat their waste? Is one solution definitely better than the other?

Read on to find out more about how they treat medical waste, as well as the benefits of each method!

Autoclaving vs incinerators – how do they treat hospital waste?

First off, when comparing autoclaving vs incinerators, you should also know how they treat hospital waste.

Autoclaving is a process that uses high-pressure and high-temperature steam to sterilize medical waste. With the use of a powerful vacuum pump, advanced steam sterilizers can suck all the air out of their chamber to create ideal conditions for the autoclaving process to occur. Autoclaves can raise the boiling point of steam above 100 degrees Celsius which allows them to kill even heat-resistant foreign materials. They can easily be incorporated into a medical waste management system as an on-site disposal solution.

Incinerators also use heat to treat hospital waste by burning at select landfills away from the site of hospitals, though on-site incinerators are also available. In the case of off-site treatment, this also requires a licensed company to transport the infectious waste from the hospital, once it has been stored in the appropriate medical waste containers.

Autoclaving vs incinerators – which method is better at treating hospital waste?

There is no “absolute best” winner when comparing autoclaving vs incinerators. Both methods have their benefits, and of course, limitations.

More and more medical facilities are using hospital autoclave machines when it comes to treating red bag waste such as gauze, gowns, and bandages AND sterilizing medical tools and equipment such as surgical equipment. This means steam sterilizers can also serve a dual purpose in the reuse of medical equipment to treat patients without the risk of infection, as opposed to incinerators, which completely destroy waste.

Hospital autoclave machines are also more practical as an on-site solution, as they require much less space and setup work to be installed, and can be operated much more easily by medical staff. They are also more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

On the other hand, some types of medical waste simply cannot be treated inside an autoclave, and hospitals will need to use either an on-site or off-site incinerator. This includes hazardous waste like pharmaceutical, pathological, trace chemotherapy, and chemical waste.

Autoclaving hospital waste – which model should you choose?

Autoclaving hospital waste can be achieved most effectively with class B autoclaves. They represent the most advanced models of steam sterilizers currently available on the market. They are definitely one the best alternatives to using an incinerator to treat hospital waste.

All autoclaves use steam to treat waste, but class B steam sterilizers are not only much faster, but also more versatile. They can treat more types of materials compared to more basic models. For example, you cannot treat textile materials with class S and N models. Due to the sheer amount of equipment and waste hospitals need to treat daily, the more options you have, the better.

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