Posts tagged "medical"

How can I reuse or recycle medical plastic tubing?

We’ve had an email from Janette asking about medical plastic tubing:

I need to know how I might reuse/recycle medical plastic tubing. My husband uses an oxygen tank and the cannula (clear plastic tubing) needs to be changed every two weeks. After the nasal clip is removed, biowaste/garbage – there’s still a ten foot length (3/16″ caliper) of sturdy, clear tubing that I would have to discard. Any ideas?

I live in the USA and the rural county recycling center I use doesn’t recycle this type of plastic.

(3/16 caliper is just under 5mm apparently)

That seems like it would be a really useful thing – the type of thing that would make a welcome addition to any tool kit. Some reuse ideas that spring to mind: using it to (softly) tie plants/trees to supports, wrapped around (and probably glued into place) a tool handle to provide some cushioning and I suspect some clever people could use it for drip-feed watering systems for greenhouses or the like.

It could be used for craft creations in its own right too: I’ve seen people making statement jewellery from tubing before; I’ve been looking at pendant light fittings recently and saw one made from loops of (albeit thicker) tubing; and I wonder if it’s flexible enough to be used for macramé or crochet/knitting – anyone seen any projects that could use lengths of tubing?

(One word of warning: apparently this type of tubing will discolour (yellow) over time when exposed to UV (sun) light.)

Finally, it might be worth containing the medical supply company to see if they’d be willing to take it back for recycling – if enough people ask, they might be compelled to do something.

Any other reusing or recycling ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle old x-rays?

(I’m still “enjoying” the flu so apologies if I’m even less regular at posting/replying to email than usual and/or more vague/rambling when I do write.)

Estelle has sent us an email about x-rays:

I have got a pile of x-rays harking back to my childhood. They are those large ones, white on black, which probably contain silver. Nowadays, they just give you them on CDs.

What can I do with these x-rays? I want to ditch them.

Because of the silver, there are a lot of places that collect old x-rays for recycling – but many are only geared up for large quantities of the stuff (and certainly only start paying for them for very large quantities) from hospitals and the like because the amount of silver in each film is negligible. Does anyone know of any companies/organisations that collect small quantities for recycling? Ideally with local collection points or by post.

Aside from that, I’d imagine it would be relatively easy to pass them on for someone to reuse for artistic or craft purposes. (You may want to remove any personal identification marks first.) There are quite a few for sale on eBay (in the Collectables/Scientific section mostly) but if you didn’t want to get into that, you could give them away locally on Freecycle or Gumtree/Craig’s List.

Anyone got any specific suggestions for things to make/do with them?

How can I reuse or recycle medical supplies/packaging?

We’ve had an email from friend of Recycle This and frequent commenter Bobbie:

I’m attaching a photo of a medication shipment I get every 3 months. The medicine has to be refrigerated and so that in itself creates all this waste. Please ignore the bookmark though, it is used to cover some private information. The syringe does not have ml markings on it, so I can’t use it for other things that have to be measured.

Of course, I want to know everyone’s idea(s) of how I can repurpose all this packaging into something useable. I already use the styrofoam boxes for other things and given many away, but frankly the size inside is pretty small 6″Wx8″Lx6″D (about 15cmWx20cm Lx15cmD) and can’t hold anything but tiny bottled drinks. I have used it as a lunch pail though.

Many creative people read your blog and I can’t wait for their ideas to pour in. I really like the useful ideas. Thank you very much and hugs to you for all the wonderful posts.

(Click on the picture to see a bigger version.)

My first idea for the styrofoam was a mini-cool box for picnics but it sounds like they might be too small to be much good for that — and how many of those would you need anyway? Any other suggestions?

A syringe could be used for refilling hand cream/moisturiser tubes from bigger tubes (as we discussed here) or tabasco sauce bottles – but again, you’d only need one or two for that – so what can be done with the rest?

How can I reuse or recycle breathing machine parts?

We’ve had an email from Dee, who first asked if it’s ok for people from the US to ask questions (it sure is!), then explained:

I currently use a CPAP machine and Medicare replaces the parts fairly frequently and I am unsure what to do with the “old” parts. I mean, I know some people may have a “problem” with recycling/reusing breathing type supplies but I hate just throwing the items away when perhaps they could be sterilized and used by someone who can’t afford the supplies and may otherwise suffer with sleep apnea.

Disposable plastic medical equipment (rather than sterilisable metal) really grinds my gears but from what I’ve read, this doesn’t seem to be just throwing something away for the sake out it – CPAP machine parts seem to need replacing due to wear and tear, which reduces efficiency and you don’t really want to reduce efficiency of something that is keeping you oxygenated.

However, the second part of Dee’s question is interesting – anyone know of any organisations that collect such medical equipment? The parts might be replaced periodically whether they actually need replacing or not, just to be on the safe side, but an expert might deem them to still be reusable.

What about recycling such items? My first port of call would probably be to contact the supplier & manufacturer of the parts but does anyone have any other suggestions?

(Photo of typical CPAP mask by JoJoJo04)

How can I reuse or recycle asthma spacers?

asthma-spacerWe’ve had an email from Judy, asking about reuses for asthma spacers:

Y’know, the big plastic cone things where you put the inhaler in one end? They are now being recommended for adults too so there must be millions out there.

I understand hospitals in Australia sterilise them for reuse.

In third world countries kids sometimes have to use empty water bottles and although I did read these are effective it seems wrong to have one standard for our kids and one for other people’s. I mean if they are *that* effective why are we getting the *proper* version on the NHS and not using old bottles ourselves? They ain’t cheap either as anyone who has had to buy a spare will know.

Apparently there have been several studies proving that plastic bottles just about as effective as the specially produced ones – I guess the (cynical) answer to Judy’s “why aren’t we just using bottles?” question is that someone realised there was a buck to be had making something special ;)

So that’s one way to make them by recycling/reusing something that is usually considered waste – but what are the options for used purpose-built asthma spacers? Does anyone know of any sterilising/redistribution schemes?