Health-Care Waste Management

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date


Publication Title

Handbook of Environmental Engineering: Solid Waste Engineering and Management: Volume 3


Health-care waste (HCW) is the term used to describe all waste generated by health-care facilities, laboratories, and research facilities. HCW is largely non-hazardous, with an 85% recycling rate comparable to household waste. The remaining 15% is considered a hazardous material, which can be infectious, chemical, or radioactive. Measures to ensure safe and environmentally sound management of HCW must be implemented to avoid the release of chemical or biological hazards, including drug-resistant microorganisms that could harm patients and health-care workers and the general public. When HCW is not properly handled and disposed of, there is a serious risk of secondary disease transmission to waste pickers, waste workers, health-care workers, patients, and the community as a whole. Sources, generation, compositions, and risk factors for HCW are addressed in this chapter. Discussions on appropriate treatment technologies and their applications in selected countries follow the introduction of the concept of 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle). HCW management’s legal framework, regulations, and code of conduct are also highlighted. At the end of the chapter, the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on HCW management are also discussed.