Disposal by post

The Clinical Waste Discussion Forum has published previous posts – these can be found in the Forum Archives – discussing the benefits of disposal by post.

Widely used in US for sharps and syringe disposal, this service is particularly valuable for domestic users who can package their used sharps in small approved sharps containers, drop these into a toughened postal pack and send them through the post for licensed disposal. The system works, and works well.

Mailman - disposal by post

 There are no reports of spillage or other adverse incident, though the UK (and possibly European) regulations prohibit the sending of hazardous materials by post. In this case, the hazard is negligible if contact is prevented – after all, the sharps would be in a UN- and EU-approved container – and an effective outer postal pack is designed to provide a secure secondary protective layer.

It all seems too good an opportunity to miss, particularly for those living in relatively remote rural areas and other small communities where investment in local hazardous waste collection services just doesn’t stack up and the local hospital is too far away. Indeed, I would warmly propose the scheme for all areas, perhaps preceded by some minimal formal instruction for patients – thi should be available whatever the arrangements for disposal – to improve on the presently inconvenient and often inadequate disposal arrangements for diabetics and others requiring self-administered infection therapies.

Pills by post

Welcome news from Sharps Compliance Corp is that they are to relaunch their TakeAway System™ Envelope Solution for drug waste disposal.

“We worked closely with the USPS to implement protocols that met or exceeded regulatory requirements and set the standards for transportation of unused prescriptions in the mail. We applaud the USPS for their ongoing support of our program and appreciate their continued efforts to protect our citizens and environment from the adverse effects of improper management of unused medications, excluding controlled substances.

This is a great idea, though as we have previously discussed in secondary to the need for lean prescribing, to avoid unnecessary or over-supply of prescription drugs, and for effort in patient training to take the full course of prescribed medication thus avoiding almost entirely the problem of accumulated waste.

It will be a bold step to take on the UK and EU postal, safety, and environmental regulators to seek permission to trial such systems here in Europe, but the gains – commercially, and in the provision of a safe and effective disposal system to replace the currently poor or non-existent arrangements – would be worthwhile. Though Sharps Compliance Corp have much evidence of success and safety, the key issues for regulators, perhaps bringing this to Europe in the face of a hostile regulatory stance is beyond the resources of a single investor. In this case, it is appropriate for healthcare providers and other interested bodies to come together with the relevant trade representative bodies and work collectively to secure permission for the relevant trials pending wide implementation of disposal by post.

Those responsible for waste regulation, and for the postal regulations governing the shipment of “hazardous wastes”, in Europe should look again at their objections to disposal by post in the light of much evidence from US operations. That evidence seems to be overwhelming, that disposal by post can operate safety and effectively, saving time, effort and mony and while greatly improving disposal standards for smalls.

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