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Health care facilities produce garbage — lots and lots of garbage.

But that medical waste can’t be treated like old banana peels and paper towels. In the United States, hazardous health care waste is tracked from the moment someone ties up the bright-red bag in an exam room to the moment it’s incinerated. A slew of strict regulations are enforced to make sure no one comes into contact with toxic, radioactive, or infectious trash.


Those specialized waste removal services can run up a high bill, and there’s also concern about how hauling tons of hospital waste to a landfill and incinerating it contributes to the carbon footprint. It’s also far from a perfect process — a 2015 assessment by the World Health Organization and UNICEF found that just 58 percent of facilities in 24 counties had adequate systems in place to safely dispose of medical waste.

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