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The carbon footprint of waste streams in a UK hospital
Chantelle Rizan, Mahmood F. Bhutta, Malcom Reed, Rob Lillywhite
The aim of this study was to estimate and compare the carbon footprint of hospital waste streams. We estimate that the carbon footprint per t of hospital waste was lowest when it is recycled (21–65 kg CO2e), followed by low temperature incineration with energy from waste (172–249 kg CO2e). When the waste was additionally decontaminated using an autoclave prior to low temperature incineration with energy from waste, the carbon footprint was increased to 569 kg CO2e. The highest carbon footprint was associated with the disposal of waste via high temperature incineration (1074 kg CO2e/ t. In conclusion, it is possible to use the carbon footprint of hospital waste streams to derive emission factors for specific waste disposal options. This may inform the optimal processing of healthcare waste in the future.