Medical Waste Management in U.S. Taking a Step Away from Conventional Incineration-based Methods, says TMR
A continuously expanding healthcare industry, rising numbers of diagnostic tests, and flourishing medical devices and pharmaceutical industries have significantly contributed towards the exponentially rising medical waste volumes in the U.S. The U.S. medical waste is highly regulated by strict emission, disposal, and recycling norms. It has witnessed excellent expansion in the past few years, and technological developments, emergence of advanced and innovative disposal techniques, and sustained efforts by government and non-government bodies aimed at ensuring public safety from hazardous medical waste at a sustained pace.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has collected over 2,100 tons of prescription medicines as of September 2010 across the country, reports show. Apart from being one of the largest producers of medical waste across the globe, the U.S. also has one of the most efficient medical waste management markets of the globe. Government bodies, several NGOs, and community-based organizations are constantly guiding healthcare facilities about devising proper ways of effective recycling and disposal of medical wastes in the country.
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Non-infectious Waste Takes Lion’s Share in Market
A large portion of the overall medical waste generated in the U.S. is of the non-infectious variety. In 2014, non-infectious waste accounted for a dominant share of around 63% in the U.S. waste management market. In the same year, infectious waste accounted for the second-largest, 22.6%, share of the market, TMR says.
The rising number of diagnostic tests in the country is the prime reason behind the generation of vast volumes of infectious wastes from pathological labs in the country. Rising geriatric population and the relatively larger possibility of this demographic contracting serious illnesses provides a big boost to the demand for medical services and diagnostic tests, which are major contributors to the rising volumes of medical wastes.
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Non-incineration Waste Disposal Practices are Now Preferred in the U.S.
Incineration of medical wastes has traditionally been the dominant medical waste management method in the U.S. However, incineration leads to the emission of several harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and dioxins, which contribute to global warming. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has made air emission limits more stringent in the country, compelling waste management companies to switch cleaner ways of handling medical waste.
This has led to the increased adoption of non-incineration technologies such as steam autoclave treatment, non-ionization radiation treatment, a variety of chemical treatments in the past few years. Non-incineration technologies are also gaining increased popularity owing to their less capital intensive nature and the possibility of turning waste into resource efficient materials using these techniques.
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Large Companies Face Stiff Competition from Small-sized Local Vendors
The U.S. market for medical waste management features the presence of a large number of small-sized local vendors and only a few large companies. In 2014, small-sized companies in the market accounted for a massive share of 53.1% in the market, while Stericycle, the most prominent large-scale company in the market held a share of 23.2%.
Mergers with and acquisitions of smaller companies are thus the most beneficial growth opportunities for new entrants and existing vendors in the market. Acquisition of smaller companies allows large-sized vendors in enhancing their operational efficiencies and expanding their service capabilities and consumer base in the U.S. medical waste management market.
The competitive landscape of the global medical waste management market comprises a large number of locally owned companies along with firms with a multinational reach. These companies compete intensely over prices of the products, reports Transparency Market Research (TMR) in a new study. A common trend in the global medical waste management market is the acquisitions of small companies by large companies in order to increase their consumer base across different regions. For instance, Stericycle, Inc. has acquired more than 350 companies across the globe in a bid to establish a presence in high-potential regions. In 2015, the valuation of the global medical waste management market was US$16.60 bn and is anticipated to reach US$20.13 bn by 2019, at a positive CAGR of 4.8% between 2013 and 2019.
Some of the key companies are Stericycle Inc., Republic Services Inc., Waste Management Inc., and Clean Harbors Inc. “The onsite treatment of regulated medical waste materials by bulk producers of waste such as hospitals and big pharmaceutical companies is regarded as one of the major challenges to the global medical waste management market,” says the author of the report. However, the low threat of new entrants due to high capital investment will keep the overall competition level medium clearing the way for larger companies to expand their business.
Government Regulations to Help in High Adoption of Medical Waste Management Systems
To ensure the safe handling and disposal of hazardous medical waste, governments of countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom have obligated proper disposal of medical waste in their respective countries. As a result, the healthcare sector is seeking help from companies offering waste management services. Therefore, these government legislations and regulations are encouraging the growth of the global medical waste management market.
During the recent times, non-incineration technologies have been largely deployed as an alternative method to incineration, which results in harmful gaseous emissions such as dioxins, carbon monoxide, furan, and sulfur dioxide. The increasing global pressure to cut down these emissions has encouraged the demand for non-incineration technologies, thereby propelling the growth of the global medical waste management market.
Another factor influencing the growth of the global medical waste management market is the rising geriatric population. The fact that aged people require more diagnostic tests, medications, and surgical procedures ultimately stimulates the need for medical waste management systems for this demographic. The increase in the number of off-site treatment alternatives will also result in an increased amount of medical waste generated, thus heightening the demand for medical waste management system. These factors are contributing to the robust growth of the global medical waste management market.
High Competitive Rivalry to Adversely Affect Overall Revenue Earnings
State licensing, vehicles for waste transfer, storage sites, and land filling sites required for safe and legal waste management systems demand high capital investment. This is likely to impede the growth of the global medical waste management market and pose a barrier for new entrants.
The global medical waste management market is highly fragmented with a large number of regional and local players. These small and local players provide waste management services at low prices, thereby affecting the prices set by large companies and giving rise to a price war among players. The price war is likely to act as a restraint that may reduce the overall revenue earnings of the global medical waste management market.
However, vendors are shifting their focus towards small quantity waste generators which offer relatively higher profit margins, thereby creating new growth opportunities for the global medical waste management market.
High Adoption Rate of Processing Amongst Vendors Owing to Extra Income Earned through it
In terms of waste generators, the market is segmented into large quantity generators (LQGs) and small quantity generators (SQGs). The LQGs will be the leading segment by revenue between 2015 and 2019. This segment was valued at US$11.34 bn in 2015 and is expected to reach US$12.94 bn by 2019. However, the SQGs segment will show the most rapid growth during the same period owing to the ever increasing patient population and restrictions over on-site disposal of hazardous or infectious waste.
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By activity type, the collection segment was the leading segment by revenue in 2015 and is anticipated to hold the dominant share in the coming years. However, the processing segment is estimated to show fast growth owing to the growing utilization of non-incineration technologies for waste management. Processing is adding another stream of income for the vendors operating in the medical waste management industry.
Based on geography, North America is expected to hold a dominant share of revenue from 2015 to 2019. The valuation of the North America segment was US$7.24 bn in 2015 and is estimated to rise to US$8.71 bn in 2019. The Asia Pacific region, however, will be the fastest growing segment during the same period influenced by factors such as the high economic growth in key countries, increasing awareness level and rising healthcare expenditures.
The information presented in this review is based on a Transparency Market Research report, titled, ‘Medical Waste Management Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013 – 2019.’
Continuously expanding healthcare industry supported by growing population with geriatric population in particular has led to the generation of substantial amount of medical waste, each year, over the world. These medical wastes have been categorized into four major types, namely, infectious, hazardous, radioactive and general wastes. Of these infectious, hazardous and radioactive medical wastes being potentially risky to human as well as environment are required to be disposed of with special caution. General wastes which are similar to common domestic and official wastes and do not require special treatment. There are a large number of companies that offer waste management services to healthcare facilities seeking help for medical waste disposal. The medical waste management market was valued at USD 14,541.5 million in 2012 and is expected to reach USD 20,130.1 million in 2019, growing at a CAGR of 4.8% during the forecast period 2013 to 2019.
Collection, processing and disposal are three major services offered by medical waste companies. Collection constituted the largest segment of the overall medical waste management market with a revenue share of 54.5% in 2012. However, during the forecast period 2013 to 2019, processing segment has been anticipated to grow with the fastest CAGR mainly because the industry is witnessing a rise in demand for non-incineration technologies for waste treatment. Healthcare facilities have been grouped into large quantity generators (LQGs) and small quantity generators (SQGs), based on the amount of medical waste generated. The market for medical waste management is witnessing a continuous rise in the revenue generated from SQGs. It is primarily because most service providers are focusing their attention towards the SQGs as they offer higher profit margin than LQGs and are also easy to target.
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Geographically, North America held the majority share of the overall medical waste management market, followed by Europe that accounted for the second largest share. These two regions are expected to retain their position throughout the forecast period 2013 to 2019. Governmental regulations mandating proper disposal of medical waste across North American and European countries has been considered as one of the major factors driving market growth in these regions during the forecast period. In Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are the major markets that offer immense opportunities to waste management companies operating in this market. However, in countries like India and China, the market is highly untapped owing to low awareness level and due to lack of strict governmental regulations. In Rest of the World (RoW), Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Israel, Turkey and UAE are the major markets where medical waste management market is expected to record maximum growth.
Stericycle, Inc., Waste Management, Inc., Republic Services, Inc., Veolia Environmental Services, Suez Environment SA, Clean Harbors, Inc. and US Ecology, Inc. are some major companies providing various waste management services to healthcare facilities seeking help for waste disposal.
In response to the expanding healthcare industry, the amount of medical waste generated around the world has also substantially increased, thus making global medical waste management market imperative for any society. The report, titled “Medical Waste Management Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013 – 2019,” published by Transparency Market Research aims to provide a granular analysis of the evolution of the market and the key factors impacting its growth trajectory.
Medical waste refers to the waste generated in healthcare institutions such as hospitals, physician’s offices, clinics, dental hospitals, veterinary clinics or hospitals, blood banks, and medical research institutes, laboratories, or facilities. This waste may include solid waste that is generated during diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, during the testing or production of biologics or any research pertaining thereto. The definition of medical waste is therefore not limited to blood soaked bandages, discarded surgical instruments, or culture dishes and other glassware.
The global market for medical waste management stood at US$14.5 bn in 2012. Rising at a CAGR of 4.8% between 2013 and 2019, the market is expected to reach US$20.1 bn by the end of 2019.
The waste generated from medical institutes can be categorized into four major segments, vis-à-vis general waste, infectious, hazardous, and radioactive. “Approximately 80% of the medical waste generated every year consists of papers, plastics, and other materials that very similar to the waste generated in households or offices,” said a lead TMR analyst. He also added that the remaining 20% to 25% of the waste generated comprises bioactive waste such as cultures, used syringes, stocks, blood-soaked bandages, expired medicines, and others, which are equally hazardous to the environment and human health alike.
For the purpose of the study, the market for medical waste management has been segmented into collection, processing, and disposal based on activity. Of these, the collection segment accounted for the maximum share in the market in 2012, followed by the disposal and processing segments. In terms of the overall quantity of medical waste generated, the report bifurcates the market into large quantity generators (LQGs) and small quantity generators (SQGs). Of these, LQGs held the largest share in the market in 2012. However, the report projects the SQGs segment to exhibit a higher CAGR over the forecast period.
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Regionally, North America held the largest share in the global medical waste management market, trailed by Europe. Both these regions are anticipated to retain their position in the market through the report’s forecast period. Favorable government regulations mandating efficient disposal of medical waste will drive the market for medical waste management in North America and Europe. In Asia Pacific, countries such as New Zealand, Australia, and Japan exhibit the most lucrative prospects for the waste management market. However, emerging economies such as India and China are yet to be tapped by medical waste management players to their complete potential due to the lack of awareness about medical waste management services and the absence of proper government regulations supporting the spread of the market. In the Rest of the World region, South Africa, Israel, Turkey, Mexico, and the UAE have emerged as the most lucrative markets for medical waste management.
To study the prevailing competition, the report also profiles some of the most prominent companies operating in the market, such as Republic Services, Inc., Waste Management, Inc., Stericycle, Inc., Clean Harbors, Inc., Suez Environment SA, Veolia Environmental Services, and US Ecology, Inc.