Home > Solid Waste > Treatment Methods of Healthcare Waste (HCW)

Treatment Methods of Healthcare Waste (HCW)

Healthcare waste (HCW) is defined as the total waste originating from all healthcare establishments; laboratories and research facilities (both human and animal); blood banks and collection centres; funeral and ambulance sevices and also the waste arising from treatment in the home. The advantages and disadvantages of treatment methods of healthcare waste (HCW) are listed below in a table.

Treatment methods of Healthcare Waste:

Treatment Method

Relative Advantages

Relative Disadvantages

Rotary kiln
  • Adequate for all infectious waste, most chemical waste, pharmaceutical waste and healthcare waste
  • High investment and operating cost.
Pyrolytic Incineration
  • Very high disinfection efficiency.
  • Adequate for all infectious waste and most pharmaceutical, healthcare and chemical waste.
  • Incomplete destruction of cytotoxics.
  • Relatively high investment and operating costs.
Single-chamber incineration
  • Good disinfection efficiency.
  • Drastic reduction of weight and volume of waste. The residues may be disposed of in landfills.
  • No need for highly trained operators.
  • Relatively low investment and operating cost.
  • Significant emissions of atmospheric pollutants. Need for periodic removal of slag and soot inefficiency in  destroying thermally resistant chemicals and drugs such as cytotoxics.

 

Drum or brick incinerator
  • Drastic reduction of weight and volume of the waste. Very low investment and operating cost.
  • Suitable for healthcare waste
  • Destroys only 99% of micro organisms.
  • No destruction of many chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
  • Massive emission of black smoke, fly-ash, toxic flue gas, and odours.
Chemicals disinfection
  • Highly efficient disinfectants under good operating condition.
  • Some   Chemicals disinfection are relatively inexpensive.
  • Drastic reduction in waste volume.
  • Requires highly qualified technicians for operating of the process.
  • Used hazardous substances that require comprehensive safety measures.
  • Inadequate for  pharmaceuticals, chemical, and some types of infectious waste.
Wet thermal treatment
  • Environmentally sound .
  • Drastic reduction in waste volume.
  • Relatively low investment and operating costs.
  • Shredders are subject to frequent breakdown and poor functioning.
  • Operation requires qualified technicians in pharmaceuticals, healthcare waste and chemical waste, and that is not readily steam-permeable.
Microwave radiation
  • Good disinfection efficiency under appropriate operating conditions.
  • Drastic reduction in waste volume.
  • Environmentally sound.
  • Relatively high investment and operating costs. Potential operation and maintenance problems.
Encapsulation
  • Simple, low-cost, and safe.
  • May also be applied to pharmaceuticals.
  • Not recommended for non-sharp infectious waste.
Safe burying
  • Low costs.
  • Relatively safe if access to site is restricted and where natural infiltration is limited.
  • Safe only if access to site is limited and certain precautions are taken.
Inertisation
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Not appplicable to infectious waste.