In this study, healthcare waste (HCW) generated in four referral hospitals in Tanzania namely: Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC), Bugando Medical Center (BMC) and Tumbi Regional Referral Hospital (TRRH) was characterized to establish its feasibility for energy recovery. The HCW collected and loaded into the incinerators was weighed and its composition determined (as highly infectious, infectious, sharps and non–infectious waste). To achieve effective energy recovery, waste segregation and color coding system were assessed. The moisture content and heating values of the waste were determined experimentally, ranging from 9.3 to 9.9 MJ/kg. Using interviews, direct observations and field measurements, the HCW generation rates, number of patients per day, number of beds and incineration rates in each health care facility were determined. Results indicated that the HCW generated were 2345, 789, 807 and 232 kg/day at MNH, KCMC, BMC and TRRH, corresponding to 1.34, 1.02, 1.1 and 0.76 kg/capita/day, respectively. The major component of the waste stream was infectious waste (which ranged from 34 to 76%). The moisture content ranged from 16 to 72% with the mean value of 43%. Further analysis on the characteristics of HCW indicated high potential for energy recovery from waste incineration.
Keywords: Waste characterization, waste generation rate, waste segregation, moisture content, calorific value of waste, composition of healthcare waste, incineration, heat recovery.