International Environmental Technology Centre 


Publication of a compendium of technologies for treatment / destruction of healthcare waste

compendium of technologies for the treatment / destruction of healthcare waste IETC recently published a compendium of technologies for treatment / destruction of healthcare waste. Healthcare waste can be defined as the waste generated by healthcare facilities, medical laboratories, and biomedical facilities, as well as waste from minor or scattered sources such as primary health centres.

Management of healthcare waste is becoming an issue of growing concern particularly in urban areas. In many developing countries it is still indiscriminately disposed of and often mixed with municipal waste, thus causing serious health and environmental hazards, particularly to the scavengers operating at dump sites.

Because of the extreme health hazards, healthcare waste cannot be disposed of along with other municipal waste. The local authorities as well as healthcare waste managers are increasingly in need of reliable information on the available technology options for safely treating and disposing of healthcare wastes.

The technologies for the treatment of healthcare waste are not well understood or widely available in developing countries. As a result, if technology choices are made, they may not be well-informed, resulting in poor or uneconomic performance.

Use of obsolete or inappropriate technologies also results in serious environmental issues due to emissions of dioxins/furans and other contaminants. Moreover, the inability to select destruction technologies results in waste inventories which remain untreated, giving rise to increasing risks of release to the environment.

This compendium:

  • reviews basic data on healthcare waste, including material constituents, moisture content, incombustibles, heating value, chemical composition, and bulk density.

  • outlines a process of technology selection based on UNEP‘s Sustainability Assessment of Technologies (SAT) methodology.

  • provides detailed process descriptions and information on types of waste treated, ranges of capacities, pathogen destruction, emissions, operational details, installation requirements, and maintenance needs for ten generic treatment technologies.

  • also deals with specific technologies.

The compendium can be downloaded here.