Hospital Solutions

When properly managed, healthcare waste should not cause any adverse impacts on human health or the environment. By sorting and reducing waste, hospitals not only avoid disposal costs and environmental hazards, but reduce the amount of raw materials, energy and processing needed to replace the products they use.

Health facilities can cut waste and greenhouse gas emissions through composting and biodigesting, recycling (including anesthetic gases), better purchasing (minimizing packaging, using reusable rather than disposable products, and buying recycled products), and minimizing waste transport (local treatment and disposal).

The small portion of medical waste that is potentially infectious includes a high proportion of plastics and can be recycled or landfilled after disinfection, rather than incinerated, since burning plastic produces large quantities of greenhouse gases, in addition to toxic pollutants such as dioxins and furans.

A variety of non-burn technologies are available that can safely disinfect, neutralize or contain the wastes for landfill disposal.  One of the most important techniques for low to middle income countries is autoclaving.  Autoclaves are economical, manufactured in a wide range of options that will suit most situations, and are well understood by healthcare systems, which routinely use them for sterilizing surgical and other medical products.


Key resources