Medical waste in the environment: do anesthesia personnel have a role to play?

J Clin Anesth. 1996 Sep;8(6):475-9. doi: 10.1016/0952-8180(96)00127-4.


Study objective: To conduct a feasibility study of the mechanics of recycling single-use anesthesia breathing systems and practices of anesthesiologists and nurse-anesthetists in a tri-state region.

Study design: Two-part, open, prospective analysis using pre-printed questionnaire and cost/time analysis of labor and materials.

Setting: Questionnaire sent to 413 anesthesiology departments in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, and hospital/recycling facility for evaluation of time and cost.

Measurements and main results: Time to disassemble and sort the breathing circuits, analysis of costs and obtainable income from byproducts of recycling, and standard survey questionnaire concerning demographic characteristics of respondents and individual department/hospital practitioners. Data analysis included analysis of variance and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Pilot analysis: Sorting of circuits to economic component required ten minutes at an average cost of $1.60 Value of scraps obtainable was $3.44, leaving a gross margin of $1.84 for a box of 18 circuits. Benefit analysis: Extended reduction in the regulated medical waste in our operating room of 16,875 lb, saving $4,387.50 per year. With generation of revenue from scrap, the net gain is $5,994.64 per yr. Questionnaire: Majority (83%) of departments polled would participate in recycling implemented by suppliers. Most respondents would not consider (58%) recycling unless mandated by law.

Conclusion: The program described is cost-effective and environmentally beneficial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / economics
  • Anesthesiology / instrumentation*
  • Delaware
  • Environmental Pollution / economics
  • Environmental Pollution / prevention & control*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Medical Waste / economics
  • Medical Waste / prevention & control*
  • New Jersey
  • Nurse Anesthetists
  • Pennsylvania
  • Physicians
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Medical Waste