Analyses of the recycling potential of medical plastic wastes

Waste Manag. 2002;22(5):461-70. doi: 10.1016/s0956-053x(02)00006-5.


This study analyzed the recycling potential of plastic wastes generated by health care facilities. For this study, we obtained waste streams and recycling data from five typical city hospitals and medical centers and three animal hospitals in Massachusetts. We analyzed the sources, disposal costs and plastic content of medical wastes, and also determined the components, sources, types and amounts of medical plastic wastes. We then evaluated the recycling potential of plastic wastes produced by general city hospital departments, such as cafeterias, operating rooms, laboratories, emergency rooms, ambulance service and facilities, and animal hospitals. Facilities, laboratories, operating rooms, and cafeterias were identified as major sources of plastic wastes generated by hospitals. It was determined that the recycling potential of plastics generated in hospital cafeterias was much greater than that in other departments. This was mainly due to a very slight chance of contamination or infection and simplification of purchasing plastic components. Finally, we discuss methods to increase the recycling of medical plastic wastes. This study suggests that a classification at waste generating sources, depending upon infection chance and/or plastic component, could be a method for the improved recycling of plastic wastes in hospitals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Health Facilities
  • Infection Control
  • Medical Waste*
  • Plastics*


  • Medical Waste
  • Plastics