Waste management has evolved into one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. We are producing massive volumes of garbage of all types as a result of the phenomenal growth in human population and industrial activity. Waste can no longer be dumped or buried and forgotten because of its sheer size. Electronic garbage is one of the most complex wastes to manage.
Lead glass, batteries, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and ozone-depleting compounds are among the toxins found in e-waste (CFCs). Electronic garbage is responsible for 40% of lead and 70% of heavy metals detected in landfills. Groundwater contamination, air pollution, and soil acidification are all caused by these contaminants. Impaired brain development, cancer, and liver and kidney damage are among the health issues linked to such poisons.
Waste management is gradually becoming a sustainability concern, rather than just a problem to be solved. Waste management has evolved into a systematic process that includes the collection, transportation, and correct disposal of garbage, sewage, and other waste products, as well as the provision of various options for recycling and repurposing waste.
According to statistics, the globe created over 42 million tonnes of e-waste in 2014. India has surpassed China as the world’s fifth greatest producer of electronic garbage. Medical equipment accounts for around 8% of annual e-waste output, and it is increasing.
4R’s of waste management
- Reduce: Producing more garbage and then attempting to control it consumes more resources and, in any case, increases dumping. Instead, campaigning for waste reduction in the first place is gaining traction. This entails extending the life of items and reducing use-and-throw options. Refurbishing medical equipment and utilising it for extended periods of time not only makes healthcare more inexpensive, but it also helps to reduce e-waste. The average life of medical equipment can be extended by at least 2-3 years with proper usage, frequent preventive maintenance, and calibration. We owe it to our environment to properly maintain our medical equipment so that it is not dumped unnecessarily and untimely.
- Reuse: Use reusable alternatives whenever possible. As we all know, technology is always growing, and in the field of medical equipment, more items with higher capabilities are introduced every year. If hospitals want to improve their equipment, they could sell their existing used medical equipment to another hospital in tier II or III towns that could still use it. In hospitals, several medical devices are sanitised and reused on a frequent basis, including scissors, forceps, specula, and endoscopes.
- Recycle: Breakdowns and a lack of spare parts are two of the most significant obstacles to utilising equipment longer. Electronic components and PCBs abound in medical equipment (Printed Circuit Boards). Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) such as the motherboard, power supply board, control board, transmit-receiving board, display board, Sensor Interface Boards, and others can all be repaired, which can help medical equipment last longer. Even X-Ray and CT tubes can be fixed and reused. In comparison to using newer parts or purchasing new equipment outright, these methods make it cheaper.
- Repair: If a piece of medical equipment has reached the end of its useful life or is beginning to endanger the safety of a patient or user, it is best to dispose of it responsibly. Printed circuit boards contain a variety of elements that can be removed and utilised in new devices. E-waste contains ferrous metals, copper, silver, gold, and polymers, which can all be recycled and profitably repurposed in new goods.