vers page d'accueil

Les déchets hospitaliers
les déchets d'activités de soins

1° mai 2000. Version anglaise. Ce texte reste d'actualité en 2003. Le Houx Vert.

The French official designation of hospital wastes or medical wastes is wastes from healthcare activities (WHA), that is wastes from the activities of diagnosis and preventive, remedial or palliative treatment in human and vetenary medicine.

We can find WHA in :
- public and private hospitals (wastes from healthcare buildings),
- medical offices, labs, nurses activities, etc (scattered wastes).

Under the term "wastes from healthcare buildings", officials consider all the wastes generated by medical, healthcare services, operating theatres but also administrative services, the garden, the canteen, housing...

Wastes from thanatopraxy, medical education, researche institutes and the industrial production in human and vetenary medicine are considered to be WHA as well.

In France, every year, 700 000 tons of WHA are produced. The wastes are divided up into two categories : the ones which are comparable to household wastes, and the hazardous ones (infectious, chemical, ionizing and mechanical).

 Wastes from healthcare activities


 Areas of production

 hazardous ones

 160 000 tons/year

9% in scattered sector
91 % in healthcare buildings
 - operating theatre
- labs
- healthcare services...


 540 000 tons/year
 - healthcare services
- administration
- canteen...


Regulations :
The responsibility to treat the WHA is incumbent upon the producers. At the site of production, the hazardous WHA must be separated from the other types of wastes and collected in particular bags. In practice, given the lack of education and lack of time, sorting is not made efficiently.

Storing hazardous WHA is under control. Below are the different delays the producer has to respect to treat wastes.

 Lapse of time between departure from area of storing and treatment of wastes

 WHA production
 Lapse of time between production and treatment of wastes

 72 hours

7 days

7 days

 . > 100 kg/week

5kg/month < . < 100 kg/week

. < 5kg/month

 72 hours

7 days

3 months

Only incineration and disinfection of WHA are authorized by the law. According to the French health department, autoclave is not an efficient process for treating medical wastes.

In practice :
* Incineration

Wastes from healthcare activities can be incinerated, with special authorization, in :
-1- household incineration units,
-2- industrial wastes incineration units,
-3- hazardous-WHA incineration units (outside the hospital),
-4- hazardous-WHA incineration units (inside the hospital).

In France, 87 % of WHA is incinerated. Below is the distribution between the different units :

 household incineration units  71 %  (21 units in France)
 industrial wastes incineration units  18 %  1 unit
 hazardous-WHA incineration units
(outside the hospital)
 8 %  3 units
 hazardous-WHA incineration units
(inside the hospital)
18 %  less than 50 units


* Disinfection

The principle of this treatment is based upon the grinding of hazardous-WHA followed by a disinfection with steam, micro-waves or chemical products (fungicide, bactericidal product...).

In France, 13 % of the WHA is treated this way. The appliances authorized for this disinfection are quoted in this table.

 The number of appliances through France

 The name of the appliance
 Percentage of wastes treated


 18 %


 4 %


 21 %


4 %


42 %


11 %

WHA disinfected this way follow the household elimination process of the city, except compost.