A guide to sanitary waste
We regularly get asked about the controls and regulations that apply to sanitary waste. As part of our complete approach to waste, we can provide feminine hygiene and washroom services. In this guide we answer some of the most common questions relating to sanitary bins so you can understand your legal obligations (under UK regulations) and how we might be able to help.
Feminine Hygiene Services
What is sanitary waste?
According to the Health and Safety Executive, “offensive/hygiene waste” (previously labelled as “sanpro” or “human hygiene waste”) includes:
- Human and animal waste (faeces)
- Catheter and stoma bags
- Incontinence pads
- Sanitary waste
- Nasal secretions
- Vomit and soiled human bedding from a non-infectious source
- Disposable medical and veterinary equipment (such as gowns)
- Plasters used in minor first aid or self care
- Animal hygiene waste (such as bedding)
- Non-healthcare waste (such as from piercings or tattoos – not including sharps)
Known as a type of “offensive/hygiene waste” (owing to the idea that it can be offensive in appearance and smell), sanitary waste is the product of a population which is not known to be infectious. There is a residual health risk from handling sanitary waste, which should be assessed and precautions should be put in place. However, according to the HSE, as long as the waste is suitably wrapped, properly handled in line with the regulations and free from residual liquids, the risk to human health is considered low.
Is sanitary waste “hazardous”?
Sanitary waste is not categorised as hazardous, special or clinical waste under UK environmental legislation or as dangerous goods under transport legislation, providing it is considered non-infectious and does not require specialist treatment or disposal methods. Under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012, offensive waste is waste that is not clinical waste but that contains bodily fluids, secretions or excretions and falls within codes 18 01 04, 18 02 03 or 20 01 99 in Schedule 1, List of Wastes.
Put simply, the regulations state that, providing waste meets the criteria of including non-infectious bodily fluids that are not otherwise clinical waste (such as sharps), they should be categorised as “offensive/hygiene waste”. As with all types of waste, it must still be handled carefully to avoid harm, but it does not need to be treated in the same way as clinical or hazardous materials.
What are my sanitary waste obligations as an employer?
Sanitary waste disposal is highly regulated and governed by UK legislation to ensure that it is disposed of in a safe and hygienic way that corresponds to the level of risk it can present to human health. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 recommend that all organisations should provide a suitable method for disposing of sanitary waste in their female toilets. This is backed up by the Water Industries Act 1991 which states that no sanitary waste should be flushed away that could lead to blockages or problems with the sewers or drainage system. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 also levies a Duty of Care on any organisation that produces, disposes or keeps “controlled” waste, including sanitary waste. All of this adds up to the sensible provision of clean and safe feminine hygiene bins, helping to prevent damage to the sewage system.
Is sanitary waste “controlled waste”? If so, do I need a specialist waste company to collect it?
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Controlled Waste Regulations (England and Wales) Regulations 2012, all household, commercial and industrial waste is classified as “controlled waste”, including sanitary waste. As a result, it is perfectly acceptable for your main, everyday waste to have a proportion of feminine hygiene waste included.
It is recommended that you use a specialist company such as Business Waste LTD to collect feminine hygiene and washroom waste. It is, however, important to know that any controlled waste must only be transferred to a waste carrier registered with the Environment Agency, and the waste management company you use to collect your commercial waste has to be registered as a waste carrier in exactly the same way as any specialist sanitary bin service collector.
However, when sanitary waste is handled in bulk and collected as a “separate fraction” by contract service collection companies, it then needs to be handled as “offensive waste” which then has more rules around its final disposal. This may sound confusing, but the key here is about the amount of feminine hygiene waste being handled. Many businesses choose to use a waste disposal contractor (or add on to their existing commercial waste disposal contracts) as they can provide clean and safe sanitary waste bins and handle all disposal and changeovers, avoiding the need for cleaning staff to have to handle it.
Sanitary Waste Disposal
How can Business Waste help you?
Here to help businesses in the UK save money on their waste collection services, we are a leading waste management company, handling a range of commercial and specialist waste. The Environmental Protection Act of 1990 puts a Duty of Care on all UK businesses to remove their waste with as little impact on the environment as possible. Commercial sanitary waste disposal can free you up to get on with running your business, knowing your legal obligations are fulfilled by our experienced nationwide experts. We’ll start by completing an assessment at your premises, before working to provide the right bins and collecting and disposing of the waste in a timely and responsible fashion.