Is Medical Tubing Recyclable After Use?
Earlier this year, I went with my roommate to start donating plasma in order to earn some extra income. It’s a daunting process the first time you go. You go through two hours of physicals and questionnaires before you can actually start donating. My roommate didn’t survive the process. He almost passed out during the survey; coincidentally right on the question “some people may faint during the process, do you have any questions?” to which he replied “yes” and found a nurse. That was the end of his plasma donating career, but I kept up with it. It only takes about an hour and is a fantastic place to read.
While donating I lay in an extremely comfortable chair while my arm is hooked up to a machine with a needle and plastic tubing. When I get bored of reading one of my trashy fantasy novels I often start philosophizing about two major recurring topics. The first topic is the potential zombie apocalypses. The way donating works, is they siphon blood from me, separate the plasma from it, then give the blood back along with some added chemical. It is a temporary replacement for the plasma and is suppose to keep my blood from clotting during the process. I’ve decided, and my roommate agrees, the zombie virus is within this chemical and apocalypse will ensue.
The second, more realistic, topic is about the medical tubing used during the donation process. A new set of plastic tubes are used every donation so donors don’t contact someone else’s blood. The tubes are deemed hazardous waste and disposed of accordingly. This must amount to a massive amount of plastic waste. The medical tubes can not be reused because they have remnants of donor blood inside. I’ve keep wondering if there is someway to recycle or reuse the tubes. It must be a very lucrative business for the donation center’s plastic tubing supplier or manufacturer, because they go through a lot of medical tubing. There must be some way, if there isn’t already, to break down and sterilize the plastic to make it back into tubing. They might already be doing this but it doesn’t seem like it. I guess the centers are more concerned with not spreading diseases than recycling the tubing.