Global Biomedical Waste Management Market

Global Industry Analysis (2017 – 2020) – Growth Trends and Market Forecast (2021 – 2025)


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Pressure on Healthcare Sector Amidst a Pandemic to Generate Monumental Biomedical Waste

The growing healthcare sector has led to a tremendous increase in the quantity of medical waste generation in developing countries. As hospitals and other healthcare establishments witness excessive admissions with the pandemic, the biomedical waste is only expected to rise at an exponential rate. The amount of medical waste produced in a typical developing country depends on a wide range of factors, chiefly the demographics and the healthcare benefits. The report indicates that it may range from 0.5 to 2.5 kg per bed per day. For instance, India generates as much as 500 tons of biomedical waste every day while Saudi Arabia produces more than 80 tons on daily basis.

The global biomedical waste management market is poised to find lucrative opportunities as the prevalence of infectious diseases continues to be on the rise. The rise in the number of hepatitis cases along with other collection of microbiological waste, human anatomical waste and animal waste are expected to drive the market during the forecast period.

Eco-friendly Treatment Technologies for Biomedical Waste Management to Create Attractive Opportunities

The 2004 WHO policy paper and the Stockholm Convention stated that there is a need to assess the risks associated with the incineration of healthcare waste in the form of heavy metals, acid gases, carbon monoxide, organic compounds and pathogens. Yet, the predominant medical waste management method in the developing world is either small-scale incineration or landfilling.

Many developed countries are phasing out healthcare incinerators and exploring technologies that do not produce any dioxins. Countries such as the United States, Ireland, Portugal, Canada and Germany have completely shut down incinerators or imposed a moratorium on them. The commitment towards lowering carbon emissions and turning waste-to-energy has prompted these companies to dedicate efforts towards greener solutions.

The alternative technologies for healthcare waste disposal are steam sterilization, advanced steam sterilization, microwave treatment, dry heat sterilization, alkaline hydrolysis, biological treatment and plasma gasification.

Steam sterilization is one of the most common alternative treatment methods. Among alternative systems, autoclaving has the lowest capital cost and can be used to process up to 90% of medical waste. This system can also be easily scaled to meet the needs of any medical organization. Microwave treatment is a promising technology, which introduces moist heat and steam generated by microwave energy.

Plasma gasification is one of the best solutions available for sustainable management of healthcare waste. A plasma gasifier is an oxygen-starved reactor that is operated at very high temperature, resulting in the breakdown of waste into hydrogen, carbon monoxide and water amongst others. The main product of a plasma gasification plant is syngas that can be converted into heat, electricity and liquid fuels. Gasification is probably the cleanest and most eco-friendly waste management option for now. However, high facility set-up cost and energy requirements are hampering adoption of this newer technology.

Despite Pressure Biomedical Waste Management Sees Poor Support

The greatest risk to public health and the environment is posed by infectious waste or hazardous medical waste, which constitutes around 15%-25% of total healthcare waste. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year an estimated 16 billion injections are administered worldwide, resulting in a huge number of needles and syringes, which are not disposed of properly after use.

In 2015, a joint assessment by WHO and UNICEF found that just over half, about 58%, of sampled facilities from 24 countries had adequate systems in place for the safe disposal of health care waste.

The outbreak of novel COVID-19 pandemic has put additional pressure on healthcare systems worldwide. In a country like India, the cost for the collection and safe disposal of COVID-19-linked biomedical waste to INR 100/kg as against INR 47/kg for the biomedical waste of non-COVID-19 patients. Additionally, there has been a sharp increase in daily waste generation across the world.

Low levels of awareness about the health hazards related to healthcare waste, inadequate training in proper waste management, absence of waste management and disposal systems, insufficient financial and human resources and the low priority given to the topic are primary concerns related to healthcare waste.

Sustainable Healthcare Systems Remains Need of the Hour

Public offices, NGOs and big enterprises worldwide are investing generously in research and development to bring in eco-friendly ways to treat the waste. Additionally, statutory guidelines coupled with public awareness initiatives have successfully resulted in an increase in medical waste treatment sites. The biomedical waste management market is primarily growing due to increasing waste generation. This can be attributed to the rising demand for healthcare services as geriatric healthcare needs grow. The rising pool of obese population, leading to a high number of diseases, which need treatment have also contributed to the market growth.

The non-hazardous waste segment accounted for the largest market share in 2019 owing to large quantities generated in healthcare facilities across the globe. WHO reported that of the total amount of waste generated by healthcare activities, about 85% is general and non-hazardous. Safety measures to ensure the environmentally-sound management of healthcare waste can prevent adverse impact on both health and environment in the long-term.

The collection, transportation and storage services segment accounted for the largest revenue share in 2019. However, the recycling segment is anticipated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period due to the emergence of eco-friendly technologies such as plasma gasification. Usually, disposal and treatment of the material are outsourced offsite, hence, this segment accounts for the largest share. However, the adoption of onsite disposal and treatment is rapidly increasing as firms are setting up onsite treatment, disposal systems and recycling units.

Europe and North America have an exponentially rising population of the aged and stringent regulations for healthcare waste management. Thus, as of 2019, North America accounted for the largest market share, followed by Europe. Also, biomedical statistics for North America stands at 7-10 kg/bed while Western Europe is at 3-6 kg/bed. Currently, these are the highest daily waste generating regions across the globe. These developed regions will not only dominate due to higher waste generation but also stand to gain as they have a better waste disposal infrastructure in place.

Stericycle’s Strong Geographical Footprint in U.S. and Diverse Service Portfolio Makes it Market Leader

Stericycle, a U.S.-based company, is one of the leading players due to its strong global presence and diverse service portfolio. Stericycle offers solutions for medical waste disposal, compliance training and now COVID-19 vaccination waste disposal management. It has a strong nationwide network of waste collection and transfer facilities and waste treatment and shredding facilities. The underlying business strategy capitalizes on regulation that mandates proper collection, transportation and disposal of medical waste.

Few other prominent players in the field are Veolia Environnement S.A., Suez Environnement, Clean Harbors, REMONDIS AG & Co. KG, Sharps Compliance, Inc., Waste Management, Inc., BioMedical Waste Solutions, LLC, Daniels Sharpsmart Inc., Republic Services, Inc., EcoMed Services, GRP & Associates, BWS Incorporated, MedPro Disposal, GIC Medical Disposal, Gamma Waste Services, Triumvirate Environmental, EPCO, Casella Waste Systems, Inc., & All Medical Waste Australia Pty Ltd.

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