If you're working with a medical waste management company, it can be a bit confusing to know exactly what you should be paying for those services. There are so many variables that factor into the cost of waste management. There is, therefore, no hard-and-fast rule for what you should or shouldn't be paying for your medical waste disposal. However, there are some general guidelines to ascertain whether you are paying within the standard range for the medical waste disposal industry.
What Doctor Offices and Hospitals Need to Know About Medical Waste Disposal Costs
Waste Management Contracts versus Waste Management Service Agreements
The first important factor that can affect waste disposal price is whether you're working with a company that uses contracts. A waste management contract is usually a multiyear contract that charges a set monthly fee—regardless of your waste disposal needs.
A service agreement is a system wherein you only pay for what services you use. This means you pay for per box for each medical waste pick up. Therefore, if you have one month where you generate very little regulated medical waste, you'll pay less than those months where your waste production is higher.
The exact numbers depend on your waste production, but many doctors' offices and hospitals find that paying per box is more economical than paying a set monthly fee.
These waste management contracts used to be the prevailing model, but in recent years, service agreements have become more prevalent and more popular.
Possible Savings with a Service Agreement
Although the specific numbers will change based on a facility's location, volume, and frequency, there are some general numbers that can be used as guidelines within the waste management industry.
Contract: people typically pay $200 to $400 per month for medical waste pick up.
Service agreement: people typically pay less than $100 a month.
For the average customer, this can mean at least one hundred dollars in savings per month.
Pricing Per Box
As more and more medical facilities gravitate toward the service agreement model, it's important to note that the pricing per box can vary according to a number of factors—not the least of which is the actual company. All medical waste management companies are going to charge according to their pricing structures, so it's a good idea to ask several companies about their rates (and medical waste pickup capabilities) to see which is the best match for you.
As a frame of reference, one "box" in the medical waste industry is typically considered a thirty-gallon cardboard box into which the red bag waste can be placed.
Your location is one large factor in what you're going to pay per box. If you're in a large city or metropolitan area, you're simply going to pay less than if you're in a rural, out-of-the-way place.
Using Atlanta, Georgia, as an example, a medical facility is likely going to pay $20 to $45 per box. (Remember that these numbers represent averages. Individual customers could pay upwards of $75 per box or as little as $15, making the average somewhere around $35.)
Someone outside of Atlanta (in a rural location) could pay upwards of $75 to $200 per box.
Why the significant price difference? In a word, transportation. Transportation is a huge factor in waste management cost, and getting a truck to these out-of-the-way places can add a significant financial burden to the waste disposal company, which is then reflected in the customer's bill.
How often you need your red bag waste picked up is another factor that plays into waste management pricing. Generally speaking, a monthly pickup is average, whereas weekly pickups are rarer. Depending on volume, a monthly pickup will often cost less than weekly.
Volume can significantly increase or decrease the per-box rate. On average, a medical facility will ship about two boxes a month—resulting in approximately $40 to $80 per month for medical-related waste disposal.
However, a facility shipping that volume is going to get a better rate than the small office that ships two boxes a year. Again, these variations in rate are largely based on transportation factors.
Why Does Transportation Play Such a Big Role in Waste Management Pricing?
Transportation is not just about the time it takes to get to a medical facility for that medical waste pick up. (Although, that is one part of it.) Rather, transportation costs are a combination of factors:
Cost of paying for employees' time.
Wear and tear on the vehicles themselves.
Type of Waste
Within the medical waste industry, there are essentially two methods for proper waste disposal: medical waste autoclave and medical waste incineration. All red bag waste can go through the autoclaving process, but trace chemotherapy waste and pathological waste must go through medical incineration.
The costs associated with incineration are higher than what's required for an autoclave machine. Therefore, if you know you produce waste types that must go through incineration, expect to pay more than if you only produce regulated medical waste that must go through the autoclave process.
For more information about factors that affect waste management price or more waste management tips in general, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, a regulated medical waste disposal company in Atlanta, Georgia.