The Safe & Effective Disposal of Healthcare Waste

Safe and Effective Healthcare Waste Disposal

All of the companies and organisations that generate healthcare waste have a significant worry about the proper and secure treatment of this waste. Waste from healthcare facilities usually includes hazardous waste kinds, which may be especially detrimental to both the environment and the general population’s health. As a result, companies and organisations have a responsibility to ensure that the healthcare waste they generate is properly segregated, kept in a safe location, and disposed of responsibly.

The majority of waste is either buried in landfills, burned, or disposed of via the use of alternate disposal methods. No matter how it is disposed of, waste has the potential to damage the surrounding environment, including the land, air, and water.

The many categories of waste and their definitions

The control of waste necessitates the classification of health care waste, which is created as a result of health care activities in hospitals and community settings. This healthcare waste disposal classification must be done based on the hazardous qualities of the waste and the location where it was generated. Two categories of waste are produced in the healthcare industry: hazardous and non-hazardous.

Infectious Waste

The term “infectious waste” refers to any waste that presents either a known or prospective risk of infection. Even quite small illnesses may be considered infectious according to this criterion. Any implanted medical equipment that has come into contact with infectious body fluids must be categorised as infectious waste and given the appropriate treatment for that status. Until it is examined, it is safe to presume that all waste from health care, regardless of where it was generated (a hospital, the community, etc.), contains infectious waste.

Under hospital waste management, if contagious waste is not separated from non-infectious waste, the whole waste stream will have to be categorised as infectious waste and sent for the required treatment and recovery, or it will have to be disposed of.

Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceutical items, medications, vaccines, and sera that have been used over their expiration date, have been left unused, have been spilled on or have been contaminated are examples of medicinal waste. It also comprises abandoned things that become contaminated as a result of their usage in the process of handling medicines. These materials might include masks, connecting tubing, syringe bodies, medication vials, and bottles or boxes that contain residues.

The only drugs that are considered hazardous waste and need to be kept apart from other medicines are those that are cytotoxic or cytostatic. If cytological medications are not separated out, then the whole stream of medicinal waste will have to be burned in an incinerator when it is disposed of.

Other medications that aren’t cytotoxic might have potentially dangerous features (like banned substances, for instance), thus they should be handed over to the right authorised staff to be disposed of and destroyed.

Offensive/hygiene waste

This is a new phrase that was created to characterise waste that is neither contagious nor dangerous (and thus does not need specialised treatment or disposal), but that nonetheless has the potential to offend individuals who come into touch with it.

The term “sanpro” waste and waste formerly referred to as personal hygiene waste are both included in this category.

anatomical waste
Image Source: Trikon Clinical Waste UK

The Importance of Waste audits

The auditing of waste is not just recommended practice but also a legal duty. Compliance with regulatory criteria may be shown via the use of waste audits, which play an important role. The memorandum Safe management of health care waste suggests conducting audits before establishing new waste management processes or revising the ones that are already in place. Additionally, line managers should be provided with the opportunity to assess the efficacy of waste minimization and segregation activities via the use of regular audits.

It has been established via the provision of this guideline that conducting frequent audits confers a variety of advantages, including the following:

  • locating and fixing the places where regulations aren’t being followed while keeping an eye on the overall picture
  • identifying potential areas of development
  • cultivating in the worker a feeling of participation and ownership
  • obtaining enthusiastic engagement from the employees

Colour Coding For Safe Management of Healthcare Waste


The use of orange boxes, bags, and sharps receptacles with orange lids should be required for all items that have the potential to be made safe. The guideline makes it clear that in actual fact, this will include the vast majority of soft infectious waste, which includes things like dressings, bandages, and certain plastic equipment that are only used once.


The waste materials that need to be incinerated, such as anatomical waste (placentas) and any sharps that include an amount of medicinal substance, should be placed in yellow boxes, bags, and sharps receptacles with yellow lids. These containers should be yellow. Any maggots that are going to be utilised for the treatment of wounds need to be stored in a yellow container that is airtight.


It is recommended that waste that is contaminated with cytotoxic and cytostatic medical items be placed in yellow/purple boxes, purple bags, and sharps receptacles with purple lids. This contains sharps that are used in the administration of chemo, antiviral, and/or hormone medications.


Yellow and black packaging should be used for waste that can be identified as belonging to the healthcare industry and is neither contagious nor harmful.


It is required to be used for household waste, however, it must never be used for waste that may be considered medical waste. The memorandum on the safe management of health care waste verifies that the majority of ‘bagged’ waste from community nursing goes into the orange waste stream, and it suggests using orange bags for the waste. However, it is also advised that nurses carry sturdy yellow boxes for any waste that has to be burned (usually anatomical or sharps, or containing lots of free liquid). If the waste is contaminated with cytotoxic or cytostatic medications, the lids of these boxes must be coloured purple.

Wrapping Up  

As a leading provider of healthcare waste management services, TCW offers a broad range of options to meet the needs of each facility. TCW is here to help with all aspects of clinical waste solution from providing bins that are colour-coded according to the kind of waste produced to providing customised waste disposal services to suit your healthcare facility’s unique needs. Get in touch with us today to know more.

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