Alloro Promo is a company managed by Stefano Lepore, right, and Carlo Bovetti. They are demonstrating their needle burner. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - A machine that incinerates hazardous medical waste into ash within minutes is set to make the disposal of waste green while reducing the risk of infection.

The Newster medical waste steriliser, to be launched in South Africa soon, grinds potentially infectious waste into dry solid waste, and also sterilises it. The device, which resembles a small washing machine, can dispose of any kind of medical waste, from needles, syringes and small glass bottles to nappies, bandages and body parts.

Different sized models can incinerate waste from 15kg to 5 000kg within 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the device’s size. The equipment, which is used in Europe, is being imported by Cape Town company Alloro Promo.

Carlo Bovetti, who imports the incinerator, said that as the machine ground waste, the friction generated caused heat of up to 151ºC, which not only sterilised waste, but also caused the waste humidity to evaporate. Unlike autoclaves, the steriliser was 100 percent green with no toxic emissions, he said.

The machine could also be used in a hospital environment, cutting costs of transporting medical waste to incinerators, often situated on the outskirts of towns. Mark van der Heever, spokesman for the provincial Department of Health, said the total expenditure for medical waste removal in the Western Cape exceeded R18 million.

Bovetti said given the incidences of medical waste dumping, hospitals could now incinerate their own waste.

“You hear of medical waste being dumped everywhere, including urban dump sites. Often hospitals hand over the removal of waste to outside contractors and they can never be sure whether that ends up incinerated or being dumped.”

Another device soon to be in use in South Africa is a needle burner that destroys needles immediately after their use.

The Etna needle burner, which is a little bigger than a coffee mug, is battery-operated and can burn up to 600 needles before being charged.

Stefano Lepore, Bovetti’s business partner, said this device would reduce sharp injuries to medical staff who often prickled themselves with needles and exposed themselves to potential infections as a result. - Cape Argus