The Pyramid Effect in Sharps Containers Written by Megan Chamberlain

The Pyramid Effect in Sharps Containers Written by Megan Chamberlain

August 1, 2022

Let’s jump right in with a visual, what is the Pyramid Effect?

Definition: When sharps waste is disposed of in a container with an inefficient opening that is not designed to ensure the sharps land flat, horizontally in the container, the sharps will vertically and diagonally pile atop each other – creating a pyramid shape. This shape will grow in central height and not utilise all the volume within a sharps container. This inefficiency will cause the container to appear full and be changed before it has truly met the fill capacity levels – causing more turnover and cost for disposal.

Another great visualisation that may help your understanding of this effect and why it’s so important to avoid it are cardboard boxes. We live in the golden age of delivery where we can receive practically any items to our doorstop in a smattering of all sized corrugated cardboard boxes – I’m looking at you Amazon.

Now, I’m sure you, dear reader, are an A+ person and always break down your boxes before putting them in the recycling. Why do you do this? Because you understand that putting an empty, yet fully constructed, cardboard box in the recycling is a waste of space! Especially when your entire flat building shares one recycling bin (okay that may just be my own personal grievance).

So why use a sharps container that isn’t uniquely engineered to dispose of sharps in a way that realises the full fill volume of the container?

Library (MBP)

How the Sharpsmart reusable sharps container prevents the Pyramid Effect

The same way we combat all other safety or efficiency challenges with healthcare waste management – through innovative design!

Most of our containment systems are engineered with a distinctive, gravity-balanced tray. That may sound intimidatingly tech, or at least it did to me when I first heard about it, but it’s rather simple. It means our horizontal tray is designed to detect the lightest of sharps waste that could be placed on it; and once detected, it automatically tilts the sharps waste back into the container where it will drop to the bottom and lay horizontally.

Let’s take a look, to the right, at our Sharpsmart container for reference:

Pretty self-explanatory, yeah? This will also prevent anyone from continuing to put sharps in the full container as it blocks the opening. Once the Sharpsmart reusable container is full, it can be sealed with the permanent side locks and stored in the soiled room until your service date. From your clean room you can pull a clean, empty Sharpsmart container and easily put it where the full one was.

We see many facilities that are still using a sharps container with a circular opening at the top – and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s an okay design, it works! But it’s not the most efficient.

When using a container with a circular opening at the top, as you lay down the initial base layer of sharps, every item you drop in after that will inherently stagger towards the centre of the container – creating a pyramid and wasting space.

Get horizontal, save money

The faster your container appears to be full the faster it will most likely be changed by staff. More container turns typically means higher cost of disposal. Sharpsmart designs solutions with horizontal tilt-trays that help you maximise the fill capacity of your healthcare waste containers. If you’d like to see if these solutions would make a real difference in your facility, and in your medical waste disposal spend!