The vast majority of pathology laboratory waste can be recycled. It contains a high proportion of plastic and with the exception of glass, not much else.
That glass fraction is a barrier to plastics recycling, and as a refuse-derived fuel used lowers the calorific value to a point that is possibly unsustainable.
Now, laboratories are looking at the substitution of glass blood culture bottles with a plastic alternative. Introduced by one manufacturer with a sales tag of a safer product, the value of this development to waste management should not be overlooked. These glass blood culture bottles are stubby but heavy glass bottles, discarded in bulk by almost every hospital microbiology laboratory. Undoubtedly most of them end up in landfill after treatment. Though the plastic alternative may be considered environmentally unsound the recycling advantages may be considerable when compared to glass.
Taking this one step further forward, the huge numbers of glass vacuum blood collection vials discarded by every hospital lab might also be replaced by a plastic alternative to facilitate materials recovery after processing. Plastic vials used to be the norm, replaced by glass when the pre-vacuumed tube was developed. Perhaps there are manufacturing issues but newer manufacturing techniques will hopefully allow a glass-free product that will be ripe of materials recovery after ATT processing.