Accounting embodied economic potential of healthcare waste recycling—a case study from Pakistan

Ali, M. and Geng, Y. (2018) Accounting embodied economic potential of healthcare waste recycling—a case study from Pakistan. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 190 (11). ISSN 0167-6369

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Proper management of healthcare wastes is a key concern across resource-constrained countries in South Asia. Existing scientific research on this topic usually involves epidemiological and behavioral studies. Similarly, environmental impact assessment of healthcare wastes is mainly conducted from an end-user or anthropocentric point of view. In this study, we took a novel approach by analyzing healthcare wastes using an ecocentric position. Here, we utilize a case study of a general public hospital in a major city of Pakistan to analyze the embodied energy of its waste fractions by category. We used Emergy analysis to assess the true economic potential of recycling these waste items. While doing so, we compared the economic potential of current waste recycling practices with the scenario of 100% recycling of useful waste fractions. We discovered that the latent embodied energy of different recyclable waste fractions made them far more valuable than their existing market prices indicate. This value increased further if the useful waste fractions were completely recycled. In conclusion, this study used empirical evidence to argue in favor of source-segregation and recycling of healthcare wastes so that the higher costs associated with natural resource extraction and processing can be avoided. Future studies considering hazardous healthcare wastes can use the approach taken in this paper to analyze the impact of other practical waste treatment procedures.

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Journal Article
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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
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27 Mar 2020 15:55
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 04:32