Internet of Things in Biomedical Waste Management

Internet of Things in Biomedical Waste Management

Internet of Things in Biomedical Waste Management

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Biomedical waste(BMW) management in health care facilities necessitates effective strategies to mitigate the risk associated with it in terms of health hazards, environmental impact and to comply with the regulations. Improper management can lead to harmful outcomes affecting the environmental health. In India, an alarming amount of medical waste, 18,000 tons, was reported between June and September 2019, highlighting the severity of the issue. As healthcare industry is revolutionizing, there is an urgent requirement for making innovations in improving the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of the BMW management systems.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging technology with the potential to alter the waste collection industry completely. The IoT concept facilitates collaboration among humans, objects, and services within three-layered networks, eliminating the necessity for human intervention.


Real-time monitoring of waste

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 40% of hepatitis and 2.5% of HIV cases around the world are caused by health professionals becoming exposed in the workplace. One of the main reasons is due to overfilling of waste bags leading to needle stick injuries. This can be avoided by using IoT sensors providing real-time information on the capacity of the bins. These ultrasonic embedded sensors continuously monitor the fill levels of these bins in real time.

To ensure precise and accurate readings, these sensor employ the emission of sound waves, which measure the time taken for these waves to rebound and thus helps in determining the fill level. When a bin’s pre-set fill level surpasses the established threshold, an event is triggered within the cloud-based system. This information is then used to optimise waste collection and disposal and prevent it from being mishandled or disposed of improperly.


Radio Frequency Identification Technology

There is a huge manpower utilized in waste tracking in hospitals in terms of weighing, tagging, and using barcoding stickers in each bags as per the existing BMW guidelines. This can be avoided by using RFID coded bags i.e., Radio frequency identification technology.


To realize this application, a properly designed rugged RFID tag is attached to the waste bins. It contains all user/owner information. RFID reader collects the digital data and this encoded data is collected in database to track the process. An RFID reader/antenna embedded into the truck captures the tag IDs of each waste bin. The data collected from the RFID tags can be linked with a time stamp, type of container, weight of the container, and customer information. The data can be either sent to a host computer using wireless protocols or the data can also be stored in the truck on board computer and later transferred to a central waste management system for data processing.


Smart Bins Management System’

The primary aim of this system is to introduce a waste sorting system that is streamlined. Using colour-coding simplifies the waste disposal process for users, making it easier to dispose of waste correctly as per the guidelines. It integrates cutting-edge sensor technology within the bins, facilitating automated garbage sorting. The proposed sensors can discern the type of discarded trash, diminishing users’ need to manually select the appropriate bin and promoting the maintenance of a sanitary atmosphere. It gives real-time feedback mechanism that serves as an educational tool for users, fostering and reinforcing appropriate waste categorisation practices. It can gather data about the various types and volumes of waste. Subsequently, the collected data is transmitted to a centralised system or cloud-based database for analysis. The customisation of the colour-coding system based on the guidelines allows for its alignment with the regulations. Waste management authorities can remotely monitor the fill levels of the smart bins, optimising collection routes, reducing operational costs, and minimising environmental impact. This helps to maintain a sustainable environment. A mobile app can be used to monitor this process remotely.


Way Forward

Over the years, digitalization approaches with a focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) have been proposed to understand the characteristics of medical waste and to establish an efficient waste tracking system.

Digitalization can offer even more benefits by minimizing manual work, mitigating data fraud, and preventing the misuse of waste. As digitalization advances, it is essential for all stakeholders to actively participate in monitoring waste management procedures to promote environmental health.





  • Dr Malathi M MD DTM&H

    Associate Consultant, Dept of Infectious Disease, Hospital Infection Control Officer Meenakshi Mission Hospital & Research Centre Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Patient Safety





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