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Procurement and Installation of an Onsite Infectious Waste Treatment Facility

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Country: South Africa

Institution: George Hospital, Western Cape Government Health

Focus Area(s): Sustainable Procurement and Waste Management

Story Focus: 

  • Procurement and installation of a waste treatment facility on-site

Person(s) in Focus: 

  • Michael Vonk: Chief Executive Officer, George Hospital
Sharmane Janki: Deputy Director: Finance, Supply Chain and Information Management

Context & Impact: 

Previously infectious waste (Health Care Risk Waste) from the hospital was being transported long distances (450km) to the treatment plant in Cape Town. In order to comply with the relevant regulations pertaining to transport and storage, the infectious waste was collected and transported 5 days per week. The carbon footprint generated during transportation, treatment and disposal is significant and thus as a GGHH member, George hospital decided to apply the “Proximity Principle of Waste Management” by procuring a NEWSTER treatment facility onsite to deal with hospital waste at the point of generation. The Newster process involves the mechanical demolition and sterilisation of infectious waste. The high temperatures that are directly generated during the process, through transformation of the mechanical energy (friction) into thermal energy, results in total sterilisation of the waste. The final product is classified as the equivalent of domestic waste and is disposed of in a local landfill (60km away). Waste is now only transported to the site very 2 weeks. Thereby recognising that transporting waste has environmental, social and economic costs so as a general rule, waste should be dealt with as near to the place of production as possible.


Other Impacts include:

  • Waste is turned into homogenous granules and initial volume reduced by approximately 75%.
  • Non recognisable and harmless waste materials (no visible sharps or cutting objects after treatment), which will reduce chances for needle pricks.
  • NEWSTER technology is a move away from Medical waste incineration, which has a very large carbon footprint.
  • Waste from Covid-19 wards and sharps waste, which was previously incinerated can also be safely treated on site.
  • A significant reduction in the cost for treatment of HCRW is projected. The savings are still being quantified following monitoring of electricity consumption. Electricity is used to power the machinery, but no other heat or steam energy is needed.
  • Major reduction in hospital carbon footprint from transportation trips to disposal sites
  • No risk of contamination during transportation.
  • Future plans include the treatment of HCRW from local clinics and other nearby hospital on site at George Hospital to prevent the need for this waste to be transported for disposal.

Call-to-Action: This has the added benefit of raising awareness about waste and encouraging ownership of the problem at the local level. This model has shown great interest from other regional hospitals, which are also implementing this technology. There is an urgent call to action for hospitals to move away from medical waste incinerators and engage in sustainable models of waste disposal by procuring onsite treatment methods like this that will save them cost and are more environmentally friendly.

To be a leader in environmentally responsible healthcare is one of George Hospital’s strategic priorities. The onsite treatment of HCRW is one more way the hospital staff are taking meaningful action to reduce our impact on the environment and working towards achieving a sustainable future. The success of the project has been the collaboration between the supplier, support services, engineering, procurement team as well as front-line health workers” Michael Vonk (George Hospital, CEO)

“George Hospital is committed to introducing sustainable procurement in various organisations within the Health Sector by promoting education and raising awareness to effective planning and management in Green Procurement.  George Hospital is dedicated to lowering it’s environmental impact in procurement as our presence in procuring green impacts and influences the environment, which is evident by the procurement of the NEWSTER treatment equipment and consumables”  Sharmane Janki (George Hospital, Finance Manager).

Suggested by: South Africa – Western Cape Government Health

Comments: see context above.

Video created by Michael Vonk (CEO George Hospital)
Exclusive Distributer of South Africa: NEWSTER - Alloro Africa Enviro Services (Pty) Ltd

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