Healthcare waste, with infection risk

Hospital waste includes a variety of items related to patient care and analyses, which in some cases carry the risk of infection. Any failure to dispose of such waste properly would represent a danger for healthcare workers, waste plant operators, patients and those close to them, and by extension, the population at large.

Inappropriate management of hospital waste also poses the risk of contamination and pollution of the environment by pathogenic substances. Given the efficiency of combustion for destroying such elements, current regulations (in France) allow the joint incineration of hospital and household waste in waste-to-energy conversion plants under certain conditions.

CNIM provides solutions for such joint incineration, either for new-build plants or during the renovation of existing facilities. In both cases, CNIM’s offer draws on the following:

  • a design capability that enables maintenance and the automated introduction of waste into the furnace without any direct contact by plant personnel;
  • a design capability that ensures complete, continuous combustion (based on applying sufficient temperatures and the correct amount of time required for complete incineration);
  • the know-how gained by being a plant operator, which is essential for achieving the levels of combustion and emissions required for compliance with regulations;
  • regular maintenance, replacement/repair of defective equipment, recording and storage of data concerning the waste material and the treatment carried out;
  • training for operational personnel, backed by certifications and inspection programs.

CNIM has longstanding experience of the joint incineration of contaminated medical waste with household waste. Facilities have been installed around the world, including Piacenza, Italy; Toulouse, France; Toulon, France; Baku, Azerbaijan.

The different stages in the CNIM process:

  • Stage 1: Depending on the contents, medical waste can be sealed in airtight, rigid packaging to keep it together and avoid exposure to medical personnel.
  • Stage 2: Once packaged, the waste can be manually loaded into specially-designed containers.
  • Stage 3: The containers are taken by specialized transport to the domestic waste incineration plant. On arrival, they are checked for any radioactivity levels, then weighed on a weighbridge and identified.
  • Stage 4: In the absence of any radioactivity, the containers are then taken by plant operators to a designated storage area.
  • Stage 5: From there, the containers are transferred by an automated system of overhead conveyor belts and lifts to a position above the hopper of the incinerator.
  • Stage 6: The containers are automatically upturned, allowing their contents to fall into the hopper and be incinerated alongside domestic waste – avoiding the need for any intervention by staff.
  • Stage 7: The containers are then transferred to a cleansing machine, where they are washed and disinfected, again without any intervention by plant operators.
  • Stage 8: Once emptied, cleaned and disinfected, the containers are stocked in a specific area of the plant – before being sent back to the hospital or medical institution.

The conditions under which hospital waste is incinerated are the same as for domestic waste. Their quantity is limited to 10% of the total waste to be incinerated, in order to achieve an optimum level of combustion. This involves:

  • incineration temperatures above 850° C when the waste is loaded into the furnace
  • once inside the combustion chamber, the temperature of flue gases needs to be above 850° C for two seconds, as required by regulations (in France).

The treatment of flue gases is identical that used for domestic waste, as laid down by the European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive, which replaced the Waste Incineration Directive.

Aside from destroying pathogenic substances, this process also achieves energy recovery from hospital waste, which has a high calorific content.

The CNIM Group subsidiary Bertin can also provide a pre-treatment disinfection service within the healthcare institution itself, thereby making the handling and transport of such waste easier before it reaches the treatment plant.

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