Free-standing device eliminates need for special pickups and dangerous disposal of any type of medical waste, including biohazard waste generated by medical laboratories

Clinical laboratories generate a substantial amount of regulated medical waste (RMW) including needles, collection supplies, gloves, sample tubes, and sample storage containers. RMW, also known as biohazardous or infectious medical waste, must be disposed of properly per federal and state regulations, including the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988.

There are currently several ways to discard of medical waste, but those methods can be dangerous, costly, and time-consuming. They usually involve chemicals, gases, irradiation, or incineration, and the waste often has to be hauled away in hazardous waste vehicles.

Thus, a revolutionary new machine that enables the disposal of medical waste in a harmless, effective, low-cost, and on-demand basis would be a boon for medical laboratories, pathology groups, blood labs, as well as all other healthcare practices that handle medical waste.

Safe, On-demand, Onsite, Point-of-Care Medical Waste Disposal a Reality

Such a device has been created by Sterilis LLC, a privately-held company headquartered in Boxborough, Mass. The patented, device utilizes steam sterilization and grinding technologies to convert dangerous medical waste into a safe confetti-like material. It is about the size of a large office copier and can handle up to 15 lbs. of biomedical waste at a time. Sterilis is charging $50,000 for the machine or it may be leased for $1,000 per month.

“The regulated medical waste industry has seen little innovation and still operates under an archaic approach of ‘haul and burn.’ Therefore, the industry is ripe for disruption with Sterilis’ new, safer, and more sustainable approach to treat and safely dispose of regulated medical waste, when and where it is generated,” stated Robert Winskowicz, Chief Executive Officer of Sterilis in a Medical Design Technology article.

To operate the Sterilis device (above), users simply place up to 15 lbs. of medical waste (containers and all) into the top compartment of the machine and turn it on. In less than one hour the waste is transformed into a sterile material that is automatically deposited into a proprietary collection bag, which can be placed into a regular trash container. (Photo copyright: Sterilis LLC.)

“Most people in the medical profession would tell you the best way to treat medical waste is as close to the point of generation as possible, and take care of it immediately,” noted Winskowicz in a Fox25News article. “And our machines give you that on-demand capability.”

The free-standing machine is about 36” by 24” by 47” making it similar in size to an office photocopier. It runs on standard electricity, requires no plumbing or set-up, and is completely portable. Depending on usage, the steam reservoir gets refilled with water a few times a week. The device lets users know when it needs water.

“We created the Sterilis device to address a burning need for more sustainable and safer disposal of medical waste,” stated Jeffrey Bell, Sterilis’ founder, President, Chief Financial Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors in a Sterilis news release. “The Sterilis method for infectious waste disposal disrupts the RMW industry by allowing facilities to safely remediate waste onsite and at the point-of-care using steam sterilization and grinding technologies, which reduces the waste volume by about 80%. Not only does this create a smaller waste footprint, but it protects the environment by preventing the need for waste incineration, which has been cited by the EPA as a major contributor to climate change.”

Device Designed for All Types of Medical Practices, including Clinical Labs

The apparatus was designed to be used in a variety of settings including medical centers and hospitals, clinics, medical laboratories, nursing facilities, dialysis centers, urgent care centers, dermatology facilities, pathology offices, oral surgery centers, and even corrections facilities, military sites, and veterinary clinics. Sterilis is also experiencing a demand for the device among facilities involved in community needle exchange programs. Among the 40 early adopters of the device are hospitals, HIV treatment centers, community needle-drop facilities, prisons, airports, and nursing homes located throughout the US and Canada.

“The Sterilis device makes handling medical waste safer, protects healthcare professionals, reduces costs, time and labor, and reduces the need to incinerate medical waste. We’re excited by the response and customer demand for the Sterilis device as we enter a more aggressive growth phase and expand our sales and distribution footprint nationwide,” Winskowicz stated in the press release.

The machine also includes software that monitors and captures sterilization parameters for compliance and tracking purposes. That data is automatically transmitted to and stored in the Cloud where it can be easily retrieved and viewed.

The medical waste management market reached $10.3 billion globally in 2015 and is expected to reach $13.3 billion by 2020, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. Thus, the handling of biomedical waste is becoming a critical issue for medical facilities and clinical laboratories due to limited space, costs, and increasing regulations and requirements. As the medical waste management market continues to grow, it is probable that more technological advances will emerge to better serve laboratory, medical, and research professionals.

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

Sterilis Introduces Approach to Treating Medical Waste

Sterilis, LLC Named Technology for a Better Future Finalist in MassTLC’s Tech Leadership Awards

This Needle Grinder Can Mash Up Medical Waste in an Hour

Sterilis Device: How It Works

Sterilis, LLC Wins 2017 Top Product of the Year Award for Green Medical Waste Disposal Device by Environmental Leader

New Technology Helps Clean up Areas Littered with Heroin Needles