The increase in the total quantity of waste cannot be influenced as it comes as a result of medical processes

The increase in the total quantity of

waste cannot be influenced as it comes as a result of medical processes whose main business related to patient numbers, patient categories, type and number of surgeries or products used. It is, however, possible to work with the created total volume of waste and efficiently and intelligently separate it to comply with the law and help to reduce costs.

Challenges There are challenges. Separating as much recyclable material such as paper, glass and plastic packaging from residual hospital waste and recycling it, for example. These materials are traded and sold in the commodities market so recyclable materials are immediately collected separately so that they can be sold. Cardboard and paper are collected separately and sold to the highest bidder. Materials from technical operations management such as scrap metal or e-scrap can also be sold if it is collected separately. Recyclable materials make up around 30% of the total waste volume, revenues from selling them benefit the AKH. By collecting separately, the volume of residual hospital waste can be kept at a stable level and cost development can be stabilised. When treating hazardous waste,

collecting it without mixing in any other types of waste is important. In laboratories, for example, fluids have to be thoroughly checked to determine whether they can be introduced into normal wastewater or have to be collected and treated separately. Not all solutions produced are automatically hazardous waste. Fluids that result from the medical area, like body fluids, are not necessarily hazardous waste either. Precise knowledge of the arising waste, profound know-how and implementation of defined regulations help reduce hazardous fluids to a necessary minimum. Some areas at the AKH Vienna are

seeing a regular increase in hazardous hospital waste. This is waste that poses a danger inside and outside of the hospital and therefore needs special treatment. This category includes waste that is infected with certain dangerous pathogens. Here too, detailed checks


Rapid progress in the development of new medical procedures and products continues to alter the type and quantity of waste.

are necessary to determine whether the waste actually qualifies for this category and non-hazardous waste is frequently treated as hazardous due to uncertainty. The introduction of various measures has enabled a reduction of hazardous hospital waste by around 30% in 2015 as compared to 2014.

Optimising waste management Controls and projects to optimise waste management are just one part of the equation. What is decisive for successful implementation is the employees’ support in daily medical operation. Experience has shown that employees only support measures if they have understood their sense. Training and motivating employees about waste and environment related topics is therefore an integral part of

waste management at the AKH Vienna. New employees receive basic training in addition to specific training aimed at the different target groups. Experience has shown that this is important – waste at an intensive care unit is very different from the waste arising at a laboratory and staff need to understand the different requirements concerning waste. Besides personal training, other media are used to relay information as well. The AKH Vienna has a central waste disposal plan which is available to all employees on the intranet. Information is also passed on through training videos and waste posters, for example. Energetically exploiting waste is

another valuable contribution besides correct separation and exploitation of materials. A few years back, VAMED-KMB calculated that the calorific value of residual hospital waste is comparable to that of household waste. This showed that the equivalent of 3,000 tons of this waste amounts to roughly 740,000 Nm3 of natural gas when burned at a waste incineration plant. This energy is transformed into heating or cooling and fed back into the AKH which allows for a considerable reduction of CO2


and signifies a substantial contribution to the protection of the environment. Patient health must always be the top

priority for medical institutions. Daily medical operation, however, should not have negative effects on humans and the environment. For this reason, the AKH Vienna has implemented responsible waste management which takes into account ecological and economic necessities.


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