Circular Economy in Conjunction with Treatment Methodologies in the Biomedical and Dental Waste Sectors

Circ Econ Sustain. 2021;1(2):563-592. doi: 10.1007/s43615-020-00001-0. Epub 2021 Mar 17.


In this review, life cycle assessment (LCA) principles are coupled with circular economy (CE) in order to address LCA examples in the biomedical sector worldwide. The objectives were (1) to explore the application of LCA in the medical, pharmaceutical, and dental fields; (2) to describe the ways of biomedical waste management; (3) to emphasize on the problem of dental waste in private and public dental sectors; and (4) to propose ways of "green circulation" of the dental waste. A literature search was performed using the Google Scholar, PubMed, and Scopus search engines covering the period from January 2000 until May 2020, corresponding to articles investigating the LCA and circular economy principles and legislation for biomedical and dental waste, their management options, and modern ways of recycling. The results showed that incineration seems to be the best management way option involved despite the mentioned drawbacks in this technology. Different adopted models are well defined for the dental field based on the 3Rs' module (reduce, reuse, recycle). Replacing disposable products with reusable ones seems to be a good way to tackle the problem of waste in medical and dental sectors. Interventions on the selection and better biomedical and dental waste management will ensure eco-medicine and eco-dentistry of the future. These new terms should be the new philosophies that will change the way these fields operate in the future for the benefit of the professionals/patients and the community.

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s43615-020-00001-0.

Keywords: Biomedical waste; Circular economy; Dental waste; Life cycle assessment; Medical waste disposal; Public health and ecological risk.

Publication types

  • Review