Case Study on Safe and Sustainable Healthcare Waste Management


The IGES Centre Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (CCET) has published a case study report on safe and sustainable management of Health Care Waste, based on a project at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), one of the biggest hospitals in Nepal, in collaboration with Health Care Without Harm, HECAF360 and WHO Nepal. The case study is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme – International Environmental Technology Centre (UNEP-IETC) with financial assistance from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ).   

How to properly manage healthcare waste is a topic that has been receiving increased global attention. At healthcare facilities, a significant increase in infectious waste is being generated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, at COP26 in Glasgow, over 50 countries committed to promote green, climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems in response to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.

This case study shows how to reduce waste generation while improving safety and resource efficiency through improved healthcare waste management based on the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle). IGES has been providing scientific knowledge and practical guidance on this topic, especially to developing countries that face a lack of infrastructure, inadequate budgets, absence of supportive policy and regulation, and capacity gaps. The concepts of resource efficiency and circular economy have also been incorporated into TUTH’s basic plan to develop a sustainable healthcare waste management system from an environmental perspective, with special consideration of the impacts on climate.

Ruth Stringer, International Science and Policy Coordinator, Health Care Without Harm, explains that “Before the project, the waste from TUTH was either burned or dumped, emitting greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Now, almost a third of the waste is recycled, retaining the value of the materials in the waste. The biodigester can treat all the organic waste, reducing methane emissions, and removing a source of attraction for pests and disease vectors”.

Premakumara Jagath Dickella Gamaralalage, Director of CCET, states that “This case study shares good practices and lessons learned on the sustainable health care waste management in TUTH in Nepal, which is largely based on the 3Rs concept: reduce, reuse and recycle. It also highlights the importance of adopting appropriate technologies to minimise exposure to health risks and therefore help improve public health, well-being and ecosystems”.

IGES believes that science-based guidance can improve the planet and people’s health and mitigate negative impacts on our living conditions and lifestyles, and research will continue to be carried out in this area. The case study report can be accessed below.

Working Paper

This case study reports on the development of a healthcare waste management (HCWM) system at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) in Nepal where the intervention began in 2014 with support from HECAF 360, a local NGO, and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), an international NGO, and WHO Nepal. It describes the approach and path followed by...


Related links

Health Care Without Harm
WHO Nepal
International Environmental Technology Centre (UNEP-IETC)