Infectious Waste Disposal

With global warming and the rise of environmental disasters, the importance of caring for the environment has never been clearer. As a result, business owners are responsible for ensuring that their daily practices have as little impact on the world around them as possible. One way in which business owners can achieve this goal is through good waste management, wherein all waste products are appropriately segregated and disposed of.

Clinical Infectious Waste - Orange Clinical Waste Bag

However, the improper disposal of certain waste types, such as clinical waste which includes infectious waste, poses a much more significant threat to the environment than other waste products. As such, extra care and precautions should be taken to manage, store, and dispose of this waste. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about infectious waste disposal.

What is Infectious Waste?

As the name suggests, infectious waste refers to any waste products that are infectious by nature. They are classified as such if they have been contaminated by bodily fluids such as blood or have been used by a person with an infection. They are typically produced in health care facilities (human and animal) or laboratories and pose a threat not only to the environment but also to the health of those who may come into contact with them.

Examples of infectious waste include:

Facts on Infectious Waste

According to the WHO, 85% of the waste produced in healthcare facilities is classified as hazardous. From this, 15% of the waste is either infectious or toxic, which further exemplifies the need for handling it appropriately.

The NHS produces 600,000 tonnes of waste per year – though only a small percentage of this figure relates to infectious waste. For example, the NHS disposes of 133,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually.

There are various legislations in place which dictate how infectious waste should be handled, stored, transported, and disposed of within the UK, including the Environmental Protection Act (1990) and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulations. You can find out more about them here.

Who produces Infectious Waste?

Various different facilities produce infectious waste. This includes:

Healthcare Facilities such as hospitals, health centres, and doctors’ surgeries. Healthcare facilities are the largest producers of infectious waste due to the nature of their work. Their infectious waste includes products used to treat or care for infectious patients, diagnostic samples, and PPE. As most patients within these environments are potentially vulnerable, the safe disposal of infectious waste must be considered an absolute priority.

Nursing and care homes. Carers who work in these facilities often come into contact with infectious waste when providing their residents with the medical care they need. Waste produced on these facilities includes sanitary waste, dressings, wipes, and gloves.

Dental practices. Much like healthcare facilities, dental practices produce large volumes of infectious waste, especially when they are carrying out surgical procedures requiring gauzes, bandages, and sharps.

Laboratories. Laboratories, especially those that conduct medical or clinical research, also produce large volumes of infectious waste during their daily operations. This could include items such as swabs, samples and gauze.

Veterinary practices. While the patients may be a little different, veterinary practices produce similar types of infectious waste to healthcare facilities. This includes dressings, wipes, animal bedding, and PPE.

Blood banks and COVID-Testing Centres. Both blood banks and COVID-testing centres produce large amounts of waste – and to reduce the spread of infection or cross-contamination, it must be disposed of appropriately. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can go about handling Covid Testing waste.

Infectious waste bags

Yellow Clinical Waste Bag Clinical - Highly Infectious Hazardous

How should infectious waste be stored?

When not stored or handled appropriately, infectious waste poses a significant threat to anybody who may come into contact with it. Therefore, you should ensure that:

    PPE items, such as gloves, are worn whenever the waste is being handled.
    All waste is segregated correctly and stored in the correct containers.
    All waste is securely stored at a designated collection point in an area where no unauthorised personnel (such as the general public) can come into contact with it.

What bins, containers and bags should be used?

At BusinessWaste, we provide our customers with access to a range of free bins to safely and securely store their waste. When it comes to infectious materials, we’d recommend using:

Yellow clinical waste bags. Businesses can use Yellow clinical waste bags to store highly infectious clinical waste products. Due to the classification of this waste, it is typically disposed of through incineration. This includes:

Couch Roll
Disposable Garments (Contaminated with bodily fluids)

Orange clinical waste bag. Businesses can use orange waste bags to store infectious clinical waste products. As they are not classified as highly infectious, they can sometimes be treated and rendered safe before disposal instead of being incinerated. This could include:

Non-contaminated Bandages
Non-contaminated Dressing and Wipes

Infectious waste bins. Our 660 Litre Wheelie Bin is perfect for storing infectious waste before collection. Available in a range of colours, they typically hold between 10-12 bags of waste.

Sharps bins. Sharps waste is not always considered infectious but can be incredibly hazardous if they are not disposed of correctly. As such, all employees must have access to sharps bins. They are sealable and lockable to prevent unauthorised access and can also be colour-coded. Sharps waste includes items such as:

    Hypodermic needles

Infectious waste disposal

How is infectious waste disposed of?

Whenever infectious waste is collected from your property, you must ensure that it is disposed of safely and securely. This is your legal obligation, and you could be met with numerous fines for non-compliance. Therefore, you should begin by ensuring that your waste is rendered safe before disposal – which signifies that any risks or threats have been removed. You should then ensure that it is disposed of through the appropriate streams.

Previously, many companies would mistakenly dispose of their infectious waste alongside their general waste. This means that a vast proportion of this waste would end up in a landfill site – where it could contaminate other waste products, spread infection, or even pollute water sources if not properly managed.

The easiest and safest way to dispose of this waste is through incineration. At Business waste, our high-temperature incinerators reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees and are used to safely and securely dispose of infectious waste.

Infectious waste collection

What infectious waste collection options are available from Business Waste?

We offer a varied range of waste collection programs, which are specifically tailored to our customer’s needs. For example, we can provide you with:

Access to free bins and bags to store your waste before collection.

Expert advice on guidance on all areas of waste disposal, including tips that will enable you to reduce your waste effectively.

A waste collection plan that works for your business. For example, we can collect infectious waste on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

Peace of mind, as you know that all of your waste will be handled according to all legislations and with the environment in mind.

If you have any questions about the services we offer or would like to receive a free quote – please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

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