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Traditionally, the medical waste industry has not been associated with sustainability. Legislative treatment requirements focusing on patient care and health has seen medical waste compliantly handled and disposed of in the safest manner for the community. Med-X Healthcare Solutions, a specialist clinical waste and hygiene solutions service provider was founded in 2017 and has already made significant inroads into providing circular economy solutions for the industry.

Med-X’s growth accelerated in early 2020 when it was recognised by Australia’s healthcare, and specifically the aged care sector, as a rising star in reliable medical waste management amid increasing cases of the COVID-19 virus. The volume and rate of highly infectious clinical waste generated by healthcare facilities, surpassed the capacity of other medical waste vendors to manage. This became a high priority challenge for the aged care sector, with emergency assistance required. Med-X was called upon to assist in servicing aged care facilities in order to meet the increased demand.

Van Karas, General Manager of Med-X and Shred-X recalled the company’s quick response and assistance in infectious waste collection during this difficult time, “While they may not be frontline healthcare staff, our Med-X service personnel faced equally daunting situations, putting the health and safety of others before their own. Correct handling of highly infectious waste requires adherence to strict procedures and processing protocols. It’s not glamorous work but it is essential, and we are extremely proud of our team who stepped up in a time of crisis.”

However, delivering reliable clinical waste management during the pandemic and beyond, is not the only way Med-X is making its mark in the industry. The company is also becoming known for its sustainable and innovative approach to waste transformation initiatives. In an Australian first, Med-X has developed a 100% recyclable single-use sharps container system, aptly named SharpCYCLE™ which is revolutionising the sharps container market.

The recovery of single-use sharps containers has been pioneered through Med-X’s investment in innovative contactless process technology whereby collected single-use containers are robotically decanted, separated from their contents, granulated and blow moulded into reusable products such as sanitary waste containers, plant pots and paint pails. Med-X has partnered with local Australian recyclers and plastic moulding companies to utilise extruded plastic pellets generated by the SharpCYCLE™ process in the manufacture of other recycled plastic products, creating a true circular economy.

Through the ground-breaking SharpCYCLE™ recycling system, the clinical waste segment represented by single use sharps containers will be almost fully recoverable and diverted from landfill. “It is estimated that this recovery system will reduce sharps container landfill volumes by over 28 per cent. This percentage will certainly grow as the market moves to the single-use container system now that there is a sustainable, recycled alternative”, Van Karas described. “Although there are good reasons to use single-use virgin plastic in sterile environments, the issue unfortunately until now has been the disposal methods both of which negatively impact our environment: incineration adding greenhouse emissions and/or landfill, contaminating our ground and water.”

Investment in sustainable technologies such as SharpCYCLE™ comes as little surprise to those who know that Med-X and sister-company Shred-X are subsidiaries of Freightways Limited, a publicly listed New Zealand company with a strong commitment to carbon reduction and waste transformation. Shred-X was born of the paper recovery industry over 20 years ago, so the company’s roots are firmly planted in sustainability and remain its mission today.

Staying true to its heritage, Med-X continues to ensure ethical disposal and wherever possible divert treated waste from landfill, finding innovative ways to transform waste into new products. From rethinking eco-friendly procedures and landfill diversion opportunities within the industry, Med-X already recycle medical equipment. The treated and shredded product is recovered by local recyclers, leading to a reduction in disposal costs and landfill volumes.

Furthermore, Med-X is proud to be the collection partner in Project ‘Divert’ – a trial lead by incontinence products manufacturer Essity to divert this waste stream from landfill. The pilot is based at the Med-X treatment facility in Sale, Victoria and is an industry collaboration using Earth Systems’ patented pyrolysis technology to process used incontinence pads and nappies into Biochar. According to research, half the landfill waste from Australia’s aged care facilities is made up of used incontinence products, so Project Divert is Australia’s first large scale trial to find an alternative to landfill.

Partnerships in these waste transformation initiatives and the launch of the SharpCYCLE™ system are aligned to Med-X’s Company’s Vision and Mission of Preserving Tomorrow, Today for a Sustainable Future.

Med-X Healthcare Solutions – Be Smart, Be Safe, Be Healthy