might say that Steve Butcher is the third generation in the
waste business, but Apex isn’t anything like his grandfather’s
business. Butcher’s maternal grandfather was in the solid
waste business, and Butcher’s father continued the tradition.
Butcher worked in the family business for a while, but then
Silicon Valley and high tech called him away.
But that foray only lasted a short time, and
when Butcher was laid off, he thought, “Now I’m
going to do what I want to do.” He decided upon medical
waste as his specialty because, “Not a lot of people understand
the business or know about it,” and decided that Colorado
was the place to be as there was only one other provider in
After a few years of collecting and hauling waste to another
location for processing, Butcher has just built his “showcase
facility” with state-of-the-art processing. “Everything
is coming into place,” he said.
Unlike traditional medical waste processing where the material
is steam sterilized as-is, Butcher has installed a machine that
grinds the material before it is steamed and feeds it via an
auger that turns the material so there are no pockets that remain
unprocessed. The machine feeds the material directly into a
The end-result material resembles automotive fluff, is safe
for handling, and the volume is reduced by 85 percent. And additional
benefit is that if any patient data gets tossed into the mix,
the grinding process eliminates the possibility that it could
be retrieved, making it HIPPA compliant.
The process is safer for employees, as well. The incoming waste
containers feed into the machine without a need for dumping
or handling beyond flipping the cover open. Landfill employees
face less risk as well, since needles are no longer intact.
And because of the automation and volume reduction, it’s
quite cost effective.
Butcher is so confident in his system that his conference room
has a window that looks out onto the processing floor. “We
have nothing to hide,” he said. “We’re proud
of what we do.”
Indeed, he says that the material that goes to the landfill
is “cleaner than household waste,” and the air that
is emitted from the machine is so well filtered that it’s
cleaner than what we normally breathe.
“Our customers are selling the business for us,”
Butcher said, noting that much of his 25 to 34 percent yearly
growth comes from word-of-mouth. “We are what we say,
and we say what we do,” he said.
As far as the future, Butcher has had some interest from people
who are looking at the waste as a usable product, which would
eliminate the need for landfilling the 1.5 to 2 million pounds
that he’s estimating will be processed at the plant each
year. That’s definitely at the “cutting edge”
of medical waste processing.