Plastics, Safety Colours & Pigmentation

Technical advice regarding our containers.

IDC Medical products are produced following closely the National Guidelines for the management of clinical and related wastes as set down by the National Health & Medical Research Council as well as the Australian Standard nbr. AS4031/92.

This applies to aspects of materials used in manufacture, safety, handling, labelling, hazard warnings, colours and pigmentation as well as safety aspects during final disposal (incineration).

All IDC disposable products, yellows and purples are produced from homopolymer polypropylene and/or polyethylene. Polypropylene is used where greater strength is needed because this material has greater ‘impact’ resistance; whereas polyethylene is more flexible.

Collectively known as propathenes these materials are chemically inactive and unreactive as well as biologically inert and therefore ecologically safe.

IDC products are environmentally safe. Pigmentation used to colour the products, yellow for ordinary, common waste and purple for cytotoxic wastes, are of wax- thermal-origins. There are no poisonous additives such as cadmiums, leads, arsenics, fluorine or other potentially dangerous additives in our products.

No fumes are emitted from propathenes at ambient temperatures.

Propathene is not a skin sensitiser and is absolutely safe to handle.

Raw material and the finished moulded product behave identically during thermal subjecture and no changes occur during injection moulding.

When heated in air it melts at between 160 – 170 degrees Celsius. Decomposition starts at 330 degrees Celsius releasing low molecular weight hydrocarbons which can be ignited by flame.

Once ignited, the burning of the material generates sufficient heat to continue spontaneously and to complete decomposition (transposition) providing sufficient oxygen is supplied to the burn. Decomposition (burning) continues even with the initial ignition source withdrawn. Burning of the polymer (container) will positively improve the burning of the contents or items within the immediate area of the burn;* (see notation)

Similar to wood, paper products and other organic materials, polypropylenes burns to produce carbon monoxide, leaving only water and carbon (ash) as residue. Because carbon monoxide cannot be detected by human olfactory sensors it is necessary to provide adequate ventilation during the incinerative destruction or operator dizziness, headaches and fatigue may result. Gloves and faceshields should be worn when handling hot or melted material as hot or melting polymer will cause severe burns and adheres strongly to human skin if brought into direct contact. Cautions are generally identical to those required when working around any open flame or fire.

Ideally, the mix of material to be incinerated should be such to take full advantage of the clean burning characteristics of the poly-container so that it will interact with other combustible materials assuring an efficient and clean burn of other contents usually not readily destroyed without additional combustible material such as oil.

A typical, clean burn will result in ordinary waste and harmless residues suitable for landfill.

If difficult or ‘dirty’ burns are experienced, the mix of contaminated waste offered for incineration comprises a high level of materials which do not readily burn or decompose such as PVC, bottles, blood-bags, tubing, connectors, valves, common ice cream containers, syringes, nappyliners and/or bed-lining and other such materials.

Dirty, environment damaging burns are experienced more frequently now that larger hospitals are collecting contaminated medical waste material via re-usable containers. This waste, commonly moist and mixed with ‘wrong’ non combustible materials, will burn ‘dirty’ as it is devoid of easily ignitable materials.

In order to burn such waste successfully, incinerator operators, although reluctant, have to entice the burn with additives such as waste oils which result in toxic air pollution.

If a dirty burn occurs, a change in the incinerator mix of material should be considered prior to each burn. Waste material collected in disposable containers and offered to the burn already possess the incendiaries required for a cleaner burn without the emission of dangerous gases.

A single polyethylene Disposal safe has many times the combustion power of a cardboard box and when a burn is prepared with 50 or so polypropylene disposable safes filled with medical waste, the combustion power is such that it will successfully ‘consume’ the contents with a clean burn without harmful emissions.

Please Note

The information herein refers to IDC’s ‘RE’ range of Disposal Safes. Other manufacturers products may contain entirely different materials and colours and would therefore react quite differently during handling and incineration.

For further information please contact IDC Customer Service.