Healthcare waste french regulation stands for an obligation to incinerate healthcare waste as the article R. 1335-2 of the Public Health Code claims that “Any person who produces waste defined in article R. 1335-1 is required to eliminate it. This obligation falls to:
1° To the health establishment, the teaching establishment, the research establishment, or the industrial establishment, when this waste is produced in such an establishment.
2° To the legal entity on behalf of which a health professional carries out his or her waste-producing activity.
3° In other cases, to the natural person who carries out the waste-producing activity on a professional basis.”
The rule consists in the obligation to eliminate healthcare wastes. It is important to separate them from other types of waste to ensure that they are properly incinerated. In fact, residual household waste can be sent either in incineration or a landfill. However, healthcare wastes are prohibited in landfills.
Most of the healthcare waste are sent directly in authorized incineration plants. However, there is an alternative provided in the article R. 1335-8 of the Public Health Code: pre-treatment by disinfection to remove the infectious nature of the waste. After crushing or shredding, the volume of waste is reduced by 80%.
Once disinfected, the healthcare waste can join the traditional circuit of household waste and be treated in household incineration plant or landfill, but composting or recycling remains prohibited.
The problem here is that healthcare represents a major waste producer and the fact that those waste aren’t recyclable is growing issue.
To solve this problem the french government found an alternative : “France Experimentation”, a program managed by public authorities. This program is aimed at actors with an innovative economic project but compelled by legislative or regulatory duties to prevent them from succeeding. “France Experimentation” allows them to override legal obstacles on a temporary and experimental basis.
Currently, an experimentation is authorized for healthcare waste by a decree from March 28, 2019, relating to the recovery of waste resulting from the pretreatment by disinfection of healthcare waste. The experiment aims to facilitate the recovery of waste from a post-disinfection sorting chain and as such contributes to the circular economy and to respecting the hierarchy of waste treatment methods.
The article 2 of the decree lays down the characteristics required to benefit from the exemption for the experimentation of the recovery of the material of waste resulting from the pretreatment by disinfection of waste to care activities with infectious and similar risks.
It is a good start to finally find a solution for those millions of tons of inevitable waste that for now are getting no other options than incineration.