28 May 2018
Tel Aviv, Israel
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management

Health-care activities protect and restore health and save lives. But what about the waste and by-products they generate? Biomedical waste management is an issue of major concern not only to hospitals, but also to the environment, as it has been well documented.

A team of Israeli engineers came up with a highly efficient and cost-effective, innovative technology to deal with this issue onsite. The team developed Envomed, a machine that converts the biomedical waste into ordinary waste by shredding and simultaneously chemically disinfecting the waste, on site. The team followed the SwitchMed incubation programme to nail it!

According to the World Health Organisation, every year an estimated 16 billion injections are administered worldwide, but not all of the needles and syringes are properly disposed of afterwards. Despite the decrease in using injections with contaminated needles and syringes in low- and middle-income countries, in 2010, unsafe injections were still responsible for as many as 33,800 new HIV infections, 1.7 million hepatitis B infections and 315,000 hepatitis C infections. In developing countries, additional hazards occur from scavenging at waste disposal sites and the manual sorting of hazardous waste from healthcare establishments.

Of the total amount of waste generated by healthcare activities, 15% is considered hazardous material that may be infectious, toxic or radioactive. This is why biomedical waste poses a risk to public health. Not only healthcare and sanitation workers and waste handlers are at risk of exposure to biomedical waste as an occupational hazard, but also patients and the general public. In addition, if the biomedical waste is not properly managed and disposed of, pathogens and toxic pollutants might be released into the environment. For instance, landfills can contaminate drinking-water if they are not properly built. If the health-care waste is incinerated inadequately, this can cause the release of pollutants into the air, such as human carcinogens that have been associated with a range of adverse health effects.

Many solutions are available in the market for this issue. None of them, however, is good enough. “Poor solutions lead to poor results,” says Envomed’s team, “despite the efforts already being made to bring solutions to the market, the implementation of good practices in waste treatment remains poor.”

Envomed was born from a a team of engineers at “Maabarot Metal Works”, who build smart machines for the Israeli market, with over 30 years’ experience.  Maabarot team believes that the hospitals and medical centers should better protect public health by reducing the volume and toxicity of the biowaste they produce. Highlighting that “poor medical waste management is violating the rights of people to a healthy environment”.

After 3 years of hard engineering work, including consultations with experts from local hospitals in the initial design stage, the Maabarot team have developed a dramatically improved technological solution named Envomed. This machine makes it very easy and convenient for hospitals to implement an environmentally sound waste management in both developed and developing countries, the engineers explain.

Compared to alternative solutions, Envomed is a cold process that is relatively odor- and moisture-free, requiring very low maintenance. The sterilization formula is biodegradable and the energy consumption is very low, thus has a small carbon footprint. Last but not least, the combination of shredding and disinfecting simultaneously enables a smaller machine, lower investment and higher waste volume per hour of treatment. This dramatically reduces the need for special, expensive transportation to the municipal treatment site. The return on investment of this technology may be less than one year.  Maabarot says proudly that “there is now a newly-developed state-of-the-art machine that meets hospital needs, promising a real reduction in expenses.”

Amit Sheleg, a member of Envomed’s team participated at the SwitchMed incubation programme – SwitchMed has been very supportive so far, particularly with the mentoring part,” Sheleg explains.

Having proven the concept, and selling the first two machines, the team recived approval from the Israeli authorities and are conducting a controlled pilot at one of the biggest hospitals in the country.

Envomed has been presented to the world for the first time at MEDICA fair – the biggest pharma show that took place in November 17 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Check Envomed’s website and Facebook Page.

 

This article was first published on the SwitchMed website.

Envomed Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Waste Management
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