Sterilis device in use

The photocopier-size device can sterilize and grind up medical (clinical) waste including syringes and sharps containers to produce nontoxic garbage that ‘doesn’t require incineration’ or ‘other special treatment’.


  • Jeff Bell
  • Age: 45
  • President, chief financial officer, and chairman of 30-employee Sterilis LLC in Boxborough, Mass.


Dump in as much as 15 pounds of waste, containers and all, and turn on the machine. It filters out the air, leaving the contaminants behind. Superheated steam released into the main chamber brings its temperature above 280F and creates 38 pounds per square inch of pressure, killing all pathogens within 30 minutes.

{OK, so it’s an autoclave!}


The grinder reduces the sterile waste to confetti-size shavings within another half-hour. The Sterilis machine deposits these in a bag that can fit in a regular garbage can and logs disposal records in a cloud account users can check online.


Bell began working on the needle grinder after losing three grandparents to hospital-acquired infections.


Among about 30 early adopters are hospitals, HIV treatment centers, community needle-drop facilities, prisons, airports, and nursing homes in the U.S. and Canada.


Sterilis is charging $50,000 for the device, or leasing it for $1,000 a month.


Sterilis has raised more than $12 million from investors including former Walgreens Chief Executive Officer Greg Wasson and former Morgan Stanley President Charles Johnston.

Next Steps

Richard Della Puca, a United Nations adviser on medical policy, has endorsed the use of Sterilis’s machine in combating the spread of diseases such as Ebola. And New Hampshire’s Wentworth Surgery Center LLC says the device has cut its medical waste by 80 percent, saving $1,000 a month in disposal costs. Sterilis says it will soon begin shipping the needle grinder beyond North America, and it’s looking into making a jumbo version for bigger clients.

Well, good luck to them. I have doubts about the same capacity and throughput – around 15 lbs per hour – but if the evidence is there then it will add another potentially valuable option to safe and compliant disposal.


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