How much clinical waste?

There are many studies estimating the amount of clinical waste produced per bed per day. That figure varies by day of week and season, by type of hospital and by ward type (paediatrics, geriatrics, maternity, surgery, medicine etc). There are also differences dictated by location, with some countries generating more or less clinical waste, dictated by approaches to care and the use of disposables, and by the regulatory framework that sets definitions of what is and what isn’t clinical waste.

An informal and as yet unpublished study of waste outputs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia show that their hospitals generate 127 tons of biomedical waste every year. This equates to 1.13-kg biomedical waste per bed per day, and an average of 0.08 kg produced per visit to a medical centre (GP, minor treatment centre or private health provider).

These data, though not yet in an academic journal, add to the body of existing data on clinical (or medical or healthcare or biomedical) waste outputs in various countries. The data are invaluable for resource planning, and when compared against similar data from other countries can provide useful pointers toward approaches to improved waste minimisation, waste segregation, packaging and transport, treatment and disposal.



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