Advice and Guidelines

To address mercury use and harmful emissions and contamination from the health sector, UNDP in partnership with WHO and Health Care Without Harm developed and implemented the project called "Reducing UPOPs and Mercury Releases from the Health Sector in Africa".

This 4-year initiative led to the implementation of best environmental practices, the establishment of non-burn health care waste treatment technologies, and the introduction of mercury-free medical devices in four sub-Saharan African countries: Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The project aimed at reducing the reliance of African countries on heavily polluting low-cost incineration and promoting the use of more sustainable treatment technologies.

All the resources, guidelines, and best practices produced during this project are available on the Green Healthcare Waste site.


General Documents

These documents cover the subject broadly, but may lack in detail.

See specific documents, later in this section, for SOPs, audit checklists and task lists which cover areas in more details.

COVID-19 vaccination and municipal waste management

Health Care Without Harm and the World Bank published on 2021 a briefing aimed at urban authorities, including those responsible for general waste disposal, addresses all aspects of the issue from how to reduce PPE waste to the potential for recycling vaccination waste, and turning it instead into a resource.

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccination is the largest immunization campaign in human history and is generating an unprecedented quantity of vaccination waste, including used syringes, vials, plus packaging and the swabs and PPE used by the vaccinators. With the experience of healthcare waste management systems being swamped by infectious waste at the start of the pandemic, and many vaccination drives being held away from healthcare facilities, there is significant potential for this waste to cause problems for municipalities, ranging from the spread of infection to increased CO2 emissions.

This briefing, aimed at urban authorities, including those responsible for general waste disposal, addresses all aspects of the issue from how to reduce PPE waste to the potential for recycling vaccination waste, and turning it instead into a resource.

GGHH Waste Guidance Document

WasteCoverAccessible to members of the HCWH’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network , the GGHH Waste Guidance document sets out ways to meet the target of reducing, managing and treating waste in the most sustainable way considering that the different situations found in different countries will mean there is no perfect solution that will suit all circumstances. For more information about how to join GGHH, click here

WHO Blue Book 

“Blue Book” is the World Health Organization’s guidelines on the safe management of healthcare waste. Although it has global application, it is particularly important in low to middle income countries where the infrastructure and national guidelines might not be fully developed. The current edition, published in 2014, was written by a large group of internationally recognised experts, including HCWH staff. An abridged version was published in 2017 and is available in English, Russian and French.
Chartier et al. (2014) Safe management of wastes from health-care activities, second edition

  1. WHO (2017) Safe management of wastes from health-care activities: A summary. 
  2. Mainstreaming Environmental Management in the Health Care Sector: This document,
    produced by the World Bank, is focused on India but has much information that
    will be useful to waste managers everywhere. World Bank (2012) Mainstreaming environmental management in the health care sector: Implementation experience in India and a tool-kit for managers. Vol I & II. Publ: World Bank, Washington DC, 151pp.
  3. Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Recycling and Composting (2011): This document demonstrates how the U.S. EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) Calculator can be used to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from recycling diverse materials.

Specific documents: guidances, SOPs, checklists, task lists

Guidances, SOPs, checklists, task lists

Centres for Disease Control (CDC) documents

These documents were created with funding from the US Centres for Disease Control