According to studies undertaken by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the total Health Care Risk Waste (HCRW) generation in South Africa far outweighs the available commercial treatment capacity, posing serious health and environmental risks to all South Africans. While there are many companies on the market offering various treatment and disposal methods, the necessary legislation and regulations are unfortunately not always adhered to.
Apart from detrimental environmental risks associated with the incorrect treatment and disposal of HCRW, South Africans' health is at risk as a result of illegal dumping. This waste poses a risk to our society at large.
Phillup Love, Managing Director of South African based DCRR Process (Pty) Ltd says, "Although most health care facilities have established some form of HCRW management system, the constant findings of illegal disposal suggests there is a general lack of awareness and limited training in the various roles and functions required for responsible HCRW management.
Solutions for problems
"We have been managing hazardous waste locally and internationally for both government and the private waste sector for the past 24 years. Most recently we have been approached by the Croatian government to treat hazardous and toxic waste sites using our patented process of Dispersion by Chemical Reaction (DCR).
"Scientifically, this process means that the alkali earth metal oxide hydration reaction is managed in such a manner as to efficiently take advantage of reactions and interactions in the stabilisation of organic wastes. The by-product of the process is deemed to be inert material and can be used to fill roads or alternative landfill applications - with no risk of leaching.
"We thrive on providing solutions for environmental problems, particularly those associated with complex waste sites; our processes encompasses organic, inorganic, nuclear and de-halogenation remediation applications" explains Love.
The DEA is tasked with, among others, the need to constantly update regulations governing HCRW management, addressing issues such as separation of waste at source, and the establishment of compliant and economically sustainable treatment facilities.
System of embodiment
In order for a comprehensive health care waste management system to be effectively implemented, it is important that the basic requirements of the system are embodied in legislation, to establish a solid framework.
"We are working closely with government to ensure that we comply with their regulations to ensure a safe, secure environmental haven. We are able to assist clients from the initial design phase through to final stages, including treatability testing; project design on waste sites; hazardous waste project management and facilities decontamination. DCR Process also assists companies with policies, thereby ensuring the full compliance of either international or South African legislation in relation to hazardous, medical and toxic waste.
"We are currently running several hazardous, toxic and industrial waste projects, including the use of medical incinerators, which are all compliant with government legislation and regulations, and issue safe disposal certificates- on all hazardous, toxic and medical waste that has been successfully treated.
"At the end of the day it is all about education and training and getting the industry working together; I think forums such as the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA)'s Health Care Waste Forum Summit (HCWFS) is a step in the right direction to get industry and government aligned for a sustainable future," concludes Love.