Clinical Waste Feb 13, 2024

Clinical waste disposal, what is it and how you do it safely?

Clinical waste disposal, what is it and how you do it safely?

Posted on May 31st, 2018

Clinical waste as defined by the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) 2012 Regulations state that any waste partly or wholly made up of:

  • Waste from a healthcare activity including veterinary healthcare
  • Waste of a similar nature from a non-healthcare activity

Producers of Clinical Waste

Most clinical waste is produced by the healthcare sector, such as hospitals, GP surgeries, dental practices, residential properties and nursing homes. In addition, clinical waste can also come from zoological institutes, veterinary practices and research centres. Other producers of clinical waste and sharps waste include acupuncturists, tattooists and piercists.

Types of Clinical Waste

Waste segregation continues to increase in importance. Waste producers are looking for cost effective waste management solutions that protect public health and the wider environment. For example, separating hazardous and non-hazardous clinical waste is likely to offer cost savings.

Infectious Waste

EWC: 18 01 03 (Human) / EWC: 18 02 02 (Animal)

Also generated in human and animal healthcare infectious waste includes items such as swabs, bandages, gowns, cultures and stocks of infectious agents from laboratory work and disposable medical devices.

There are a range of treatment options available to treat and dispose of infectious waste. As previously mentioned, infectious sharps waste should be sent for high temperature incineration. Whilst high temperature incineration or steam sterilisation in an autoclave are suitable processes for soft infectious waste.

Non-infectious Waste / Offensive Waste

EWC: 18 01 04 (Human) / EWC: 18 02 03 (Animal)

The main sources of offensive waste are from human and animal healthcare sectors. Any waste that isn’t infectious and doesn’t contain pharmaceutical or chemical substances and is likely to cause offense to the senses is offensive waste.

Offensive waste from a non-healthcare environment (20 01 99) can be sterilised; the resulting material being shredded, recycled or used in waste to energy process as a fuel. Waste generated in the human healthcare (18 01 04) or animal healthcare (18 02 03) is normally sent to an energy from waste plant or to landfill.

Sharps Waste

The classification of the sharps waste determines the options available for treatment and how to dispose of sharps containers:

Hazardous Sharps Waste

EWC: 18 01 03 (Human) / EWC: 18 02 03 (Animal)

Needles, syringes, scalpels or glass vials/flasks used in the treatment of people or animals that are contaminated with either infectious bodily fluids or pharmaceutical residue.

High temperature incineration will ensure the total destruction of hazardous sharps waste. Some waste producers choose to classify all of their sharps waste as hazardous as it simplifies waste segregation and in small volumes the cost premium doesn’t rule out this option to treat waste.

Non-hazardous Sharps Waste

EWC: 18 01 01 (Human) / EWC: 18 02 01 (Animal)

The items are same as above – needles, syringes etc. However, the difference is this waste isn’t infectious or contaminated with medicine. For example, needles from a blood donor clinic aren’t considered hazardous.

There are more treatment options available. High temperature is still an option, but you can also use steam sterilisation in an autoclave.

Pharmaceutical Waste

EWC: 18 01 08 (Human Cytotoxic / Cytostatic) / EWC: 18 02 07 (Animal Cytotoxic / Cytostatic)

EWC: 18 01 09 (Human Medicines not mentioned in 18 01 08) / EWC: 18 02 08 (Animal medicines not mentioned in 18 02 07)

Pharmaceutical waste needs to be managed carefully to protect public health and the wider environment.

Controlled Drugs

To prevent controlled drugs (CDs) from being removed from the waste and reused prior to incineration they should be denatured before being destroyed.

Cytotoxic & Cytostatic Waste

Clinical waste contaminated with Cytotoxic and Cytostatic medicines should go for high temperature incineration

As you can see clinical waste is a complex issue. If you would like to discuss your requirements, please call one of our advisors.

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