How Green Are We Thinking?
Red Bag Waste
The term “Red Bag Waste” (RBW) is used to identify infectious or hazardous waste. Proper handling and disposal of RBW is essential to ensuring the safety of employees, patients and visitors.
Red Bag Waste as a Percent
of Total Waste
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According to Pennsylvania law, any waste that may contain visible blood is considered to be infectious waste. This waste – and ONLY this waste – is placed into a red bag for easy identification and for cost considerations, as previously stated. Staff education is essential for proper disposable of RBW and for keeping solid waste out of red bags.
The placement of red bag containers is equally important to education, as the improper placement increases the chances of commingling waste. For example, if a red bag container is positioned to close to a sink, it will more than likely be filled with paper towels, rather than infectious waste.
In 2009, the Green Team took steps to ensure that red bag containers were properly placed in all departments and units throughout the hospital. By eliminating red bag containers in non-critical care patient rooms (non-producers of RBW), and placing containers where it will be convenient to dispose of visible blood (such as the Operating Room and Critical Care Units where infectious waste is primarily produced), has effectively decreased AMH’s total RBW.
National standards for healthcare organizations suggest that RBW make up 12 to 15 percent of a hospital’s total waste stream, with best practices producing below eight percent. As of September 2010, AMH’s RBW stands at 11.38 percent of total waste. A great improvement!