If you visit any medical facility in South Africa, you will see red trash cans, sharps containers on the wall, and biohazard symbols alerting you to potentially infectious materials. These help to manage the large quantities of medical waste that is generated by our health care system; this includes a long list of potentially harmful waste such as used sharps, as well as items contaminated with blood.
Regulations require that medical waste is treated and rendered non-infectious before disposal in a landfill. After it undergoes the treatment process, it can safely be disposed of in a landfill like any other solid waste.
Autoclave: a process of steam sterilization that utilizes steam under high pressure to kill potential contaminants in the medical waste.
Incineration: some forms of medical waste like pathological waste and chemotherapy waste, are treated via incineration at very high combustion temperatures.
In addition to disinfection, some states and landfills require that medical waste is shredded to make the contents unrecognizable. While some facilities, such as large hospitals, treat their infectious waste on-site with their own equipment, most health care providers hire experienced medical waste management companies to dispose of it properly. Medical waste disposal companies pick up infectious waste from health care facilities, transport it to treatment site, then certify that the waste is disinfected and ultimately disposed of correctly