How to dispose of hospital waste

Updated June 15, 2017

Hospitals must dispose of and manage their waste properly. This is done to prevent the spread of diseases that are borne by hospital waste. According to the World Health Organization, hospital waste is categorised as: infectious, sharps, radioactive, pathological, pharmaceuticals and other waste, which includes contaminated bed linen and utensils. Depending on the type of hospital waste, various methods of disposal have to be adopted.

Prepare a plan to dispose of hospital waste. This plan should take into consideration proper ventilation and premises for disposal. This plan should also find opportunities to minimise, recycle, and perhaps, even reuse waste material if possible. Conduct a waste survey at the hospital. Evaluate various options and estimate the cost of implementing various strategies.

Train employees regarding the different types of waste and the way to handle to each type. This should be done for new and old employees alike.

Segregate waste material based on the type of waste. The waste should be stored in separate storage containers for each type and should be clearly labelled. Hazardous material should be stored according to regulations. Waste should be stored in a central storage unit before being transported to the disposal plant.

Dispose of the waste using a steam autoclave. Shred biohazard as well as normal wastes after being treated by steam autoclaving. Animal pathological waste, chemotherapy wastes and radioactive wastes cannot be treated with a steam autoclave. Pathological wastes like body parts and animal wastes that cannot be treated by steam autoclaving should be disposed of by cremating the waste or burying it.

Use an antimicrobial chemical to decontaminate hospital waste. This method does not require high temperatures. These chemicals can include sodium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, and peracetic acid.

Radiate the waste using a microwave. The hospital waste must be wetted before being radiated by microwaves. Often, hospital waste is treated using infrared radiation and forced-air convection at the same time.

Use a compactor to compact the treated waste to minimise the volume of the final waste.

Review the waste disposal plan each year. This is done to root out ineffective measures and adopt new techniques. Cost reduction strategies can also be adopted by reviewing the plan in a timely manner.


Recycle whenever possible. This helps save costs.


Avoid incineration whenever possible. Incineration pollutes the environment by producing heavy chemicals, dioxins and ash.

Things You'll Need

  • Storage bins
  • Labels
  • Storage unit
  • Steam autoclave
  • Anti-microbial chemicals
  • Microwave radiator
  • Compactor
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