The safe and effective management of healthcare waste emanating from hospitals and other healthcare facilities has long been a matter of grave concern locally and internationally.
This has been emphasised by the World Health Organization (WHO), which states that the management of healthcare waste requires increased attention and diligence to avoid adverse health outcomes associated with poor practice, including exposure to infectious agents and substances protecting the health of patients, health workers, and the general public.
Now, an all-South African partnership known as Tshenolo Green Solutions (TGS) is combining the use of a locally developed on-site waste disposal technology, with a comprehensive logistic approach to medical waste disposal. This integrated healthcare risk waste (HCRW) management solution is set to change the face of healthcare waste disposal.
“TGS, is a partnership between leading South African waste management company, Tshenolo Waste and local technology company Tech4Green, developers and manufacturers of the ISS T4H 480 a technology that thoroughly shreds and sterilizes potentially hazardous medical waste at the premises of a healthcare facility,” explains Ivan Mzimela, managing partner of the SpesNet Global Group, the holding company of Tech4Green.
“Tech4Green has spent five years developing, trialling and perfecting the compact ISS T4H 480 system, which is a truly ground-breaking technology able to shred waste into a completely sterile, unrecognisable pulp on the site of a healthcare facility. This pulp is made free of 99,999999% of all known pathogens and can be disposed of as specified by environmental legislation governing healthcare risk waste,” Mzimela says.
“While the system is able to meet the safe HCRW needs of any hospital, healthcare facility or medical practitioners group onsite, and is able to substantially reduce their carbon footprint, we recognised that there was a need to provide it as part of a complete end-to-end medical waste management solution for hospital groups and healthcare facilities within South Africa, thereby reducing the considerable health, safety and environmental risks that may be associated with inadequate healthcare waste management processes.
“With an outstanding, almost decade-long, track record in the safe disposal of hazardous medical waste, a complete understanding of the potential risks involved in healthcare waste, and a number of impressive clients nationally, we considered Tshenolo Waste to be a natural partner, and are delighted to announce the forging of a working partnership with the company.”
Using a “reduce, re-use and re-cycle” approach, Tshenolo Waste has its roots in the Northern Cape where it commenced operations in 2010. Since then it has developed a strong national footprint, offering waste management services to public and private health facilities, and other clients, including the SA National Defence Force, throughout South Africa.
According to Mzimela, not only does Tshenolo Waste have impressive credentials and considerable experience within HCRW management, but it has also always placed people and enterprise development at the forefront of its activities, offers accredited training within the field and is also entirely black-owned.
“This means that the Tshenolo Waste shares numerous synergies with, and a similar vision to, Tech4Green and the broader SpesNet Group,” he observes.
Commenting on the TGS partnership, board member and CEO of Tshenolo Waste, Malusi Molewa, says that it it “tremendously exciting”, and that he believes it to be “an important development in the evolution of healthcare risk waste management in South Africa”.
He notes that the ISS T4H 480, which has been extensively tested in medical facilities in South Africa and Botswana, both countries that have among the strictest environmental laws in the world, would enable TGS, a Level One B-BBEE company, to safely treat the majority, a minimum of 80% of healthcare risk waste, onsite.
“The proven technology, which is fully compliant with all local environmental and other regulations, is therefore enabling us to follow an approach in which we treat the great majority of the HCRW at source thereby virtually eliminating potential risks to people and the environment,” says Molewa.
“With this newly introduced technology and our profound understanding of the risks that can be involved in dealing with HCRW, we are able to design a holistic end-to-end solution for any hospital, healthcare facility, or healthcare practitioner group within the country.
“As any hospital group will know, the disposal of medical waste, which is usually outsourced, can pose an immense risk on a number of levels,” he explains. “If not correctly and safely managed, it may not only pose a risk to those who are required to work with and transport the hazardous waste, but there may also be an additional risk of healthcare waste being dumped, or disposed of in a manner that may be harmful to people and/or the environment. This can in turn pose an immense reputational risk to the hospital or healthcare group.
“The environmentally friendly and safe disposal of medical waste is therefore a crucial business function and it is one that we at TGS take very seriously. We consider ourselves to be risk managers and enablers rather than simple disposers of waste. Our experts assess the waste streams of a particular healthcare facility and are then able to tailor-make a comprehensive HCRW lifecycle solution to meet the specific needs and requirements of each client.
“This enables us to design a waste management process that is as cost-effective as possible and for clients to take complete control of their HCRW management and systems, meet all legislative requirements and to be more responsible corporate citizens.
“This will not only improve the safety of all of those who work, or who may come into contact, with the medical waste, but also meaningfully assists in reducing the carbon footprint of our healthcare facilities,” he adds.
“TGS’s ultimate vision is a future in which healthcare waste no longer represents a hazard to human health and the wellbeing of our country and planet. Indeed, we foresee a future in which such waste is no longer ‘waste’, but raw materials which can be re-used and re-purposed into other commodities,” concludes Molewa.