In our latest instalment of our blog series - Ask the Expert - we interview Tobie Muller; Regional Business Manager for Rentokil Initial. Up until recently, Tobie was a Director at Cannon Hygiene, and with the acquisition of Cannon Hygiene by Rentokil Initial internationally, Tobie has moved over to the team at Rentokil Initial South Africa. The Initial team are excited to have someone of Tobie’s background and experience join us, especially as he brings with him a wealth of expertise in the field of medical waste disposal.
1. Please tell us a little about your background and experience in the hygiene and medical waste industry.
Being born and bred on a farm, when I joined the washroom hygiene and medical waste industry in 2000 everybody - including myself - was asking, “What? Why sanitary waste disposal?”
Over the last 18 years, I've seen the contribution that these industries make to the wellbeing of both humanity and the environment, and because I am involved and have personally experienced how these (still rather young) industries are growing and evolving in South Africa, I have truly come to love working in this Industry.
Both the washroom and the office hygiene space have experienced the introduction of hand and seat sanitisers, in the Medical waste industry I have seen local government closing down most fuel burning incinerators not operating to emissions standards; this within the short space of the last 15 years.
2. Clinical and medical waste is not only an exciting opportunity for Initial as a business but also really important to some of our customers. What does the service entail?
Initial offers a discreet, safe and legally compliant non-anatomical infectious waste, sharps and pharmaceutical waste transportation service. This means that we provide the waste generator (our customers) with quality units, and we take care of the "cradle to grave" waste tracking requirements on their behalf, which allows them to focus on their core business. This includes the disposal of their waste with a registered waste disposer.
3. What is the benefit to our customers of getting a professional provider to transport and dispose of their clinical and medical waste?
The waste generator could handle the entire process by themselves, but they would have to follow a long and complicated process that included:
- Registering as a waste generator
- Procuring waste disposal units which comply with the minimum standards
- Registering as a waste transporter and then transporting the waste themselves
- Disposing of the waste with a registered disposer
- Keeping a record of the entire process on a waste tracking document/ waste manifest.
Or they can just contract Initial to do all of this on their behalf, which allows them to focus on their core business. I’d say that’s the main benefit; not having to worry about all these complicated and legislated procedures.
4. Are there any regulations governing medical waste disposal? I'd imagine you can't just go and tip a container of sharps out at the local landfill!
Yes, there is definitely legislation that covers medical waste disposal: the NEMWA: National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008. (Act No. 59 of 2008) regulates Medical waste generation, transportation and disposal.
When you visit a doctor's rooms or a hospital you often see different colour bags in the waste bins. You may have wondered what the colours mean - do I need to worry when I see a red bag? Different colour bags should give you peace of mind that this doctor handles the waste produced by his practice/medical facility with the necessary care. Only when we separate different waste types can we treat and dispose of it in the most economical manner and in line with legislative requirements.
5. What waste disposal does Initial specialise in?
Besides sanitary and nappy waste disposal services, Initial now also offers medical waste services which include:
- Non-anatomical infectious waste, such as blood spoiled tissue, surgical gloves etc. produced in doctors rooms or theatres
- Sharps waste, such as needles, syringes, blades, extracted teeth etc.
- Pharmaceutical waste, which is all types of expired medicine schedule 1-4.
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