Sharps by post

The Clinical Waste Discussion Forum has discussed on many occasions the disposal of sharps using a postal return service (see Archive files).

Currently, Sharps Compliance Inc are working hard to promote their sharps by post service, proposing that this is an environmentally superior and hugely convenient low-cost service that is far preferable to traditional collect or take back services. In each of the traditional models for community collections, someone has to travel to carry used sharps containers from point A to point B. The journey may be from the patients’ home to the GP surgery or hospital, or of a van driven to the patients’ home and then to a treatment facility or transfer station.

In these cases, the traffic impact must be considerable and the carbon footprint far higher than it would be using the postal services since in that letter case the marginal [carbon] cost will be far less. Cost of disposal and general safety is likely to be improved, though current postal regulations prohibits this.

Perhaps the ‘problem’ preventing disposal by post is at European level – that is what we are told, so it seems that The Post Office will be unable to help. 

However, since the postal regulations started to bite some years ago, a new industry of bike and van transport for samples shipped from GP surgeries and clinics to local hospitals grew and is now well established across the UK. These services carry, without restriction, various laboratory samples, additional paperwork, blood for transfusion, case notes, drug supplies and other bits and bobs.

With little effort, that could be expanded to provide a collection service for domiciliary patients generating sharps at home. There is little point in sending a large truck to a patient’s home to collect a 1 litre sharps bin when the same can be picked up at lesser cost by a biker already traveling in the area. The waste can be dropped off at the local hospital or delivered directly to a contractors’ site.

Everybody wins.

When the waste contractors join forces with the medical motorbike courier companies, remember that you heard it first on the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum.

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