A comprehensive understanding of the quantities and characteristics of the material that needs to be managed is one of the most basic steps in the development of a plan for solid waste management. In this case, the material under consideration is the solid waste generated in healthcare facilities, also known as healthcare waste. Unfortunately, limited reliable information is available in the open literature on the quantities and characteristics of the various types of wastes that are generated in healthcare facilities. Thus, sound management of these wastes, particularly in developing countries, often is problematic. This article provides information on the quantities and properties of healthcare wastes in various types of facilities located in developing countries, as well as in some industrialized countries. Most of the information has been obtained from the open literature, although some information has been collected by the authors and from reports available to the authors. Only data collected within approximately the last 15 years and using prescribed methodologies are presented. The range of hospital waste generation (both infectious and mixed solid waste fractions) varies from 0.016 to 3.23 kg/bed-day. The relatively wide variation is due to the fact that some of the facilities surveyed in Ulaanbaatar include out-patient services and district health clinics; these facilities essentially provide very basic services and thus the quantities of waste generated are relatively small. On the other hand, the reported amount of infectious (clinical, yellow bag) waste varied from 0.01 to 0.65 kg/bed-day. The characteristics of the components of healthcare wastes, such as the bulk density and the calorific value, have substantial variability. This literature review and the associated attempt at a comparative analysis point to the need for worldwide consensus on the terms and characteristics that describe wastes from healthcare facilities. Such a consensus would greatly facilitate comparative analyses among different facilities, studies and countries.
Waste Management – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2008
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