Sharp New Streets? Concrete Made From Discarded Needles

In the course of a year, more than 3 billion used syringes end up in landfills – and that’s only counting the ones used legally and disposed of properly. Sharps Compliance, a medical waste management company, has developed a remarkable way to eliminate the presence of sharps in landfills. Their waste conversion process will turn used sharps and other medical waste products into a pellet-like material that can be used in place of virgin materials in construction.

After the discarded syringes, lancets and needles are sterilized, they’re shredded and made into compact pellets called PELLA-DRX. The process completely eliminates the biohazard you’d expect from discarded medical waste. The pellets can then be integrated into concrete to make everything from streets to office buildings.

Concrete manufacturing is a particularly resource-intensive industry, so eliminating a large portion of the virgin materials used in producing concrete is a huge step toward eco-friendly construction. That is, of course, provided that the conversion process isn’t just as resource-intensive; Sharps Compliance doesn’t give information on the process. They do state, however, that discarded sharps are sent to them via mail vehicles already on the road, eliminating the need for specialized biohazard disposal vehicles.

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See more in New Materials or under Science. April, 2010.