Written by Laura Wakelam
25 May 2023

What Are the Five Cost Variables in Hospital Waste Management?

Every healthcare facility wants to run in the most cost-efficient manner possible, and waste management may look like an area to save money. After all, why waste money on literal trash? But in a highly regulated environment with safety risks everywhere, medical waste disposal management is no place to cut corners.

A cheaper waste system may offer a smaller price tag at first, but some disposal models come with hidden costs. Instead, Daniels Health offers a premium system that eliminates many of the unexpected costs of waste management. The final price tag on waste disposal should be calculated after analyzing five key cost variables. Let’s look at these five cost variables in hospital waste management and how Daniels Health scores on them.


1 / Waste Disposal Costs Begin with Waste Containers

2 / Watch Out for the Costs of Final Disposal

3 / Consider the Cost Efficiencies of Washing Reusable Containers 

4 / Be Mindful of Service Costs

5 / Keep in Mind Transportation Costs

6 / Choose a Provider Driven to Provide Cost-Effective Compliance 

Waste Disposal Costs Begin With Waste Containers

Waste disposal costs begin with the containers themselves. Traditionally, your facility may purchase some bins and containers upfront, whereas others come as part of a service contract. Daniels Health installs containers into customers’ facilities wherever needed, in the correct amount needed, so there's no containers you need to purchase. When the containers are installed and maintained as part of a service contract, this approach results in no costs for purchase or ownership transfers. 

Moreover, the contract terms establish that costs are based solely on the waste volumes generated and charges for the use of the containers. Tying the containers to the waste disposal services guarantees a high level of quality throughout the disposal process. Quality control is built into the model. 

Watch Out for the Costs of Final Disposal

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the disposal of waste. A wide web of local, state, and federal laws regulates different kinds of waste. Costs can vary greatly depending on a few key factors, but having a partner like Daniels familiar with the ins and outs of waste disposal can mean identifying the most cost-efficient means of disposal for every kind of trash. Since the generator of waste is responsible for its proper disposal, it is essential that hospitals not cut corners when it comes to this critical and final step. 

The primary determinants for cost impacts of waste disposal begin with the degrees of risk posed by each variety of waste. For example, the sharps waste stream poses a great risk of needlestick injuries when mishandled. Next, local, state, and federal regulations applying to a particular facility and its waste greatly affect cost. As another example, laws may require neutralizing certain medications before disposal. This is an additional step with associated costs. 

Obviously, the different treatment methods needed to finally dispose of the waste are a big factor in cost. The volume of waste your facility needs to sterilize, incinerate, or simply send to the landfill matters because these methods incur very different costs. This is why it’s important to keep waste streams properly segregated to avoid excess waste being sent to a higher-cost treatment method. 

Finally, shipping waste can also prove to be a high cost in the process. Relying on closer treatment facilities can save room in the budget. Again, working with a waste disposal partner like Daniels means you can be guided through all the options for reducing risks while remaining cost-effective. This includes a review of staying compliant with regulations, using appropriate disposal methods, and minimizing waste shipping costs by selecting the closest feasible treatment facilities.

The Four Walls Approach

One key element of the Daniels model is its four walls approach. This means getting inside the hospital through waste audits and working closely with the staff to improve the waste disposal process before waste even enters a container. The four walls approach enables Daniels’ team to and optimize waste movement and segregation daily at multiple touch points throughout the facility. 

Proper segregation of the different waste streams is an effort by all staff that can save money by reducing the amount of costly waste disposal treatments needed. Another thing Daniels does is identify optimal placement points in the facilities for containers and their transit routes. Educating hospital staff on better waste disposal procedures is one of the principal ways Daniels can increase cost efficiencies and offer greater value than competitors. 

Consider the Cost Efficiencies of Washing Reusable Containers

A sizable facility should never rely on flimsy single-use containers that pose greater safety and compliance risks. Reusable containers are crucial to running a safe and sustainable hospital. Yet obviously, containers must stay meticulously clean to maintain staff safety and retain patient trust. Daniels Health utilizes a high-powered washing process on all its reusable containers upon collection that guarantees a near-incomparable level of sanitization. With Daniels arranging the pick-up, cleaning, and return of containers, it creates a convenient and comprehensive approach to waste containers. 

This approach marries a consciousness of environmental concerns with a commitment to sanitation and safety. Single-use containers or bags may seem cheaper at first since it cuts out this cost variable in the short term. However, the greater safety and longer lifetime of reusable containers offer a good opportunity for cost savings. Choosing reusable containers is an investment in the facility that will prove itself more efficient over time. 

Be Mindful of Service Costs

Though containers may be the first thought you have when thinking of waste management, service costs follow very soon after. Service costs represent a huge amount of the bottom line. However, that isn’t a reason to underpay. A good waste disposal partner works with the hospital to develop a holistic disposal strategy. Daniels can work with facilities to rewrite policies, optimize waste mapping, and plan out every step of the disposal process. This enables a hospital to achieve greater levels of safety and ensure proper waste segregation. 

Every facility will have unique needs, but Daniels is able to tailor their approach to meet those needs. Labor is a large factor in costs. It can swing budgets under or over easily. In many service contracts, certain services can be carried out by in-house staff or Daniels Service Technicians. If your facility has someone in-house, that’s great. If not, Daniels’ Service Technicians are trained and ready to fulfill all needed waste disposal services, and we can consult on the resulting cost-benefits.

Hospitals will create different amounts of waste. They have a variety of current practices and follow various staffing norms. They require particular pick-up frequencies and maintain dissimilar waste competencies. However, all of these factors can be planned around to design a service contract that incurs minimal cost while still providing maximum utility to fit the hospital’s unique needs. This is much more sensible than relying on a patchwork approach from multiple providers or falling short of needed assistance. 

Keep in Mind Transportation Costs

The final and fifth key cost variable in hospital waste management is transportation. The proximity of nearby suitable waste treatment facilities will set certain costs. These include the distance trucks must travel, the congestion they must navigate, and the tolls incurred along the route. However, there are a few more costs involved, such as the frequency of pick-ups and waste volumes that need to be transported. Don’t forget the permits required by relevant regulations and the specific pick-up and storage requirements the facility needs as well. 

The Daniels Health model looks to minimize unnecessary costs by planning ahead. The pricing model is not fixed but flexible to whatever offers the greatest (and usually necessary) utility to the facility. By eliminating unnecessary transportation costs, this can prove the most cost-efficient and effective waste disposal system over blanket solutions that provide identical service to everyone regardless of their individual situations.

Again, Daniels Health partners with hospitals inside the four walls of the facility by working alongside hospital and clinical staff to identify the potential for improvement. Daniels develops their strategies on a unit-by-unit or facility-by-facility basis. This guarantees that each customer finds optimum value in the partnership. Every stop and pick-up happens at just the right time. Establishing the perfect pick-up frequency means no money is wasted shipping too small an amount of waste. Additionally, no risks are created by overflowing containers or improperly eliminated waste.   

Choose a Provider Driven to Provide Cost-Effective Compliance

When it comes to medical waste management, being cheap might cost you. From unnecessary fines to staff injuries to simple inefficiencies in the waste collection and disposal process, there is plenty of room for extra costs to pile up. Container, waste disposal, washing, service, and transportation costs are five major variables in determining a waste management budget. 

Relying on a waste disposal partner like Daniels Health means a hospital can know they are getting a customized, optimized solution to waste management that is built for their facility’s needs. The four walls approach includes staff in the process and educates them on how to make the most of the waste management solutions provided. Working with Daniels offers the opportunity to minimize the five important cost variables. Every step of the way, Daniels Health can tailor the waste management strategy to fit the hospital’s exact needs and no more. 





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Laura Wakelam

Laura Wakelam

Global Chief Marketing Officer

Brand and Communications Curator of Daniels Health global group of companies, Laura is a strong believer in cause-driven brand identity and honest storytelling