Best Tips for Recycling and Disposal of Dental Waste

If you are a dental professional, then you must be familiar with the importance of staying compliant with clinical and dental waste laws.

The Australian government instituted strict regulations for waste management in 2009. This regulation which is covered in the National Waste Policy provides a comprehensive framework to efficiently manage and avoid waste.

But apart from the need to stay compliant with waste laws, dental clinics like Dental O So Gentle must practice proper waste management. This is critical to prevent harm to the environment and human health.

There are several viable strategies you can implement as a dental clinic to dispose of and properly recycle clinical waste.

We’ll share these valuable tips in this article, so get your notepad out, and let’s get started!

What is Clinical Waste?

As the name implies, clinical waste is any waste produced by businesses and organizations in the healthcare sector.

Clinical waste may include hazardous materials that can potentially cause infections and diseases. Some examples are bandages, dressings, swabs, and medicines.

Dental clinics and businesses typically produce a wide range of waste. This waste may be segregated into various categories and can be classified as infectious, sharp, medicinal, offensive, anatomical, or cytotoxic.

Some of the main dental waste produced include:

– Dental amalgam. An amalgam is a mixture of mercury and other metals. It is mostly used in dental filling

– Sanitary and restroom wastes

– Plastic waste. This may include oral care product packages or plastic cups.

– Paper waste

– Confidential waste. An example of this kind of waste would be expired patient records.

– Hazardous materials. Dental radiographic waste would qualify under this type of waste.

– Used sterilization pouches

– Chemical waste. This may be a products of dental laboratory processes.

– Expired medication

We must emphasize the importance of proper waste segregation. This is because inadequate segregation can result in quite several environmental and health problems.

Simple Tips for Recycling and Disposing of Dental Wastes

Due to reasons such as convenience and concerns for patient safety, dental offices often use a large amount of disposable products. Single-use plastics are particularly one of such products.

The Australian Dental Association has noted the need to limit the use of single-use items when possible. This is important to promote sustainable dentistry.

Thankfully, there are quite some simple tips that can help in reducing dental waste. First, you must identify which products are recyclable.

  1. Identify Recyclables

Of course, not all dental materials are recyclable. However, there are still quite several dental items that can be recycled. These include toothbrushes, dental tools, and some elements of oral care packaging.

Take time to carry out a dental waste audit. This will reveal which materials you can recycle and which ones need to be disposed of.

For instance, dental amalgam waste is recyclable. The distillation carried out during the recovery process can help in extracting Mercury which can be reused in new products.

Sadly, some dentists are unaware of this and dispose of it in the general waste bin.

  1. Have a Clear Recycling Strategy

Having a clear recycling strategy in your dental clinic is vital to ensure collective alignment.

Once you have carried out your recycling audit and know which materials are recyclable, you can then proceed to the next stage of implementing your recycling strategy.

Ensure bins are strategically placed throughout your dental office. Also, ensure segregation is easy for your staff and patients alike. The best way to achieve this is by providing visible labels or colour coding the bins.

But it doesn’t stop at colour coding, you need to also educate your staff.

  1. Educate Staff

Your staff are a critical part of your recycling efforts so you must carry them along and keep them engaged. Let them know why recycling is important and the benefits it offers.

As long as your staff are fully on board, your chances of achieving your waste management and recycling goals are pretty high.

  1. Work with a Waste Management Provider

For dental waste that cannot be recycled, you may need to work with a reputable waste management company to dispose of your practice’s waste.

The method of clinical waste disposal is often dependent on where your practice is located in Australia. In most cases, they are either incinerated or autoclaved and then landfilled.

Reducing Dental Waste

While recycling and disposing of dental waste properly are essential, it’s also smart if you find creative ways to reduce your waste to start with.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

– Opt for reusable gloves and equipment that can be sterilized.

– Choose washable lab coats instead of plastic or paper

– Use glass or ceramic cups for rinsing instead of disposable cups

– Store patient records electronically

– Work with stainless steel instruments but ensure you disinfect them between appointments.

– Give out old dental equipment to charities

– Use biodegradable products instead of disposable plastics.

Benefits of Recycling

There are numerous benefits to be derived from having a robust recycling strategy both for your clinic and the environment at large.

Here are a few:

  1. Reduced Environmental Impact

No doubt, implementing a proper recycling program in your dental clinic shows your credentials as an eco-friendly organization.

With less waste getting landfilled, you will be playing your part in enabling a lower carbon footprint and keeping the environment healthy.

  1. Improved Hygiene

As a healthcare provider, your foremost concern is ensuring a safe patient experience. Recycling and properly disposing of your waste products will lead to enhanced hygiene throughout your practice.

  1. Lower Costs

The less waste you send to landfill, the less waste levy you generate. That’s a pretty logical conclusion. So, strive to recycle more waste materials; it’s beneficial for your organization’s bank balance.

  1. Competitive Advantage

The Australian public is becoming increasingly climate-conscious. Today, a lot of customers – patients in this context – make purchasing decisions, including their choice of dental clinics with sustainability at the back of their minds.

So, adopting an eco-friendly outlook might just be smart marketing leverage to attract more patients and enhance your overall brand appeal.

Last Words

The importance of proper dental waste management cannot be overemphasized. At the same time, it is crucial to point out that dental materials must not be disposed of into normal waste because of the contamination risk it may pose.

Prioritizing recycling and efficient waste disposal methods will not only benefit your organization socially and economically, but it will also help you stay compliant with waste regulations as you play your part in contributing to a safe and sound environment.