Using reusable containers for hospital waste: is there an infection risk?

DOI: 10.1080/10158782.2013.11441550
Author(s): T.R. GrimmondDirector, Grimmond and Associates, Microbiology Consultancy, New Zealand


Reusable waste containers are used to transport healthcare risk waste (sharps and non-sharps) in many countries, and are becoming increasingly common in South Africa. Initially, there may be a perception of risk of pathogen or disease transmission with their introduction. This paper assessed the international literature on reusable waste container infection risk and found there to be negligible to nil risk of pathogen or disease transfer. The literature confrms that disinfection and microbiological monitoring and validation of reusable waste containers is not indicated, and that washing with hot water and detergent, using visual criteria for cleanliness and due diligence with regard to contractor selection, enable reusable containers to be safely used.

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