arm of man being tattoed.
No. 1 for Tattoo Waste

Tattoo Waste Disposal

Running a tattoo shop, studio, or parlour involves a great deal of responsibility, as your work has a permanent impact on your clients’ lives. The depth of your responsibility doesn’t end there though. You must also ensure your tattoo waste is handled appropriately, in a way that leaves a minimal impact on the environment.

Good waste management is a priority for tattoo artists. Due to the nature of your activities, equipment you use, and areas where you work, it could create a significant sanitation issue for your business if not managed properly. Arranging appropriate storage, collection, and disposal of tattoo waste is essential.

Get a free quote for tattoo waste disposal with Business Waste. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online and our expert team can help arrange the right bins, collections, and disposal of your tattoo waste – anywhere in the UK. Learn more about managing tattoo waste.

small wheelie bin icon Bin collections in the last 7 days
Get rid of waste tattoo ink, needles, and dressings
FREE Duty of care
Get 1 Months FREE collections
Excellent customer care

Managing and disposing 
of tattoo waste

Effective tattoo waste management involves storing any waste you create in separate and appropriate bins close to the point of production. You then need to arrange removal and collection from your tattoo shop by licensed waste carriers – as you still have a duty of care over the waste you produce up to and including its point of disposal.

After the waste leaves your premises, it’s transported to a nearby facility for safe and environmentally friendly disposal, where possible. Tattoo waste is disposed of in different ways depending on its type. We work on a zero landfill policy, so aim to ensure as much as possible is recycled or reused.

Two main methods of tattoo waste disposal are for:

  • Offensive tattoo waste – waste such as bandages, dressings, and cotton swabs can be disposed of at a specialist recycling centre. Here, the products are sterilised, placed in an autoclave, heated, and shredded. They’re then sorted into recyclable and non-recyclable materials and disposed of accordingly.
  • Sharps waste – some forms of sharps waste, such as tapers and piercing needles can be autoclaved. However, many tattoo needles and other needles must be disposed of through incineration. This is for safety reasons due to their potentially infectious nature.

Tattoo waste 
bins, bags, and containers

To safely manage your tattoo waste effectively, you must ensure you use the appropriate bins, bags, and containers for each type of waste you produce. These vary depending on the kind of tattoo waste generated, which is important to separate your waste and prevent cross-contamination.

Some of the common bins, bags, and containers used to store tattoo waste include:

View all bins
  • Sharps bins

    Available to store various types of sharps waste, an orange-lidded sharps bin is designed to hold tattoo and piercing needles before collection. They’re lockable and made from highly durable materials to avoid piercing or damage.

    small wheelie bin icon
  • Clinical infectious waste bags

    Orange waste bags are used for infectious waste types produced in tattoo shops, such as contaminated masks, dressings, wipes, and gloves. This helps separate them from non-infectious waste for safe storage and disposal.

    small wheelie bin icon
  • 120 litre wheelie bins

    Easily store general waste, plastic waste, and other recyclable rubbish from your tattoo shop in this two-wheel bin. For higher waste volumes or less frequent collections, wheelie bins up to 1100 litres are available.

    small wheelie bin icon

Tattoo waste 

At Business Waste, we can help your tattoo parlour or studio better control your waste. Whether you run your own tattoo shop, a busy parlour employing many tattoo and body artists, or are a mobile tattooist, we can devise an expert waste management plan specifically tailored to your company.

Our nationwide network means we can arrange collections for tattoo shops anywhere in the UK to safely remove any sharps, clinical, or general waste. With a unique plan you can minimise tattoo waste at the source, promote recycling and ensure all your waste is disposed of safely.

We offer flexible waste collection plans depending on the volume of tattoo waste you produce. Collections are available on a daily, weekly, or fortnightly basis and we’ll deliver free bins to an accessible place – just pay for the collection. We’re also cost-effective – as we don’t think protecting the planet should come with a price tag.

Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online and get your free quote for tattoo waste collection today. Any of our friendly and expert team will be happy to field your questions, offer advice on the right bins for your tattoo business, and explain more about our commercial waste collection services.

Contact us today for a quote

How does tattoo 
waste collection work?

  1. Select your free bins

    It’s quick and easy to organise commercial waste collection for your business.

    Simply start by telling us the:

    • Type of waste you need removing
    • Size of bins you require
    • Number of bins you want

    We’ll provide you with a free quote.

  2. Arrange delivery

    When you’re happy with the type, number, and size of free bins, tell us when you need your bins delivering.

    Let us know about any access issues where you want the bins delivering – such as locked gates, access codes and times. We’ll get you up and running in no time.

  3. Fill up your bin

    After the free bins arrive at your chosen location, fill them up with the agreed waste type.

    Make sure you remain within any weight limits for the specific waste type and bin size.

  4. Get your business waste collected

    We’ll arrange waste collection at a time and frequency to suit you and the amount of waste you have.

As featured in…

  • FT logo
  • telegraph paper logo
  • daily mail logo
  • guardian logo

What are types 
of tattoo waste?

Tattooists and body artists produce large volumes of waste every day. Most of this waste classes as offensive clinical waste – as it’s non-infectious but could be unpleasant to handle due to the context where it was used. However, sharps waste (such as needles) classes as hazardous waste as they can pierce and puncture skin, which may spread infections.

Therefore, all waste produced within a tattoo parlour must be handled, stored, removed, and disposed of carefully and with the utmost discretion. Examples of the types of tattoo waste you may produce can include:

  • Sharps waste – needles, razors, and blades
  • Chemical waste – leftover ink, disinfectant, sterilisers, and detergent
  • Infectious waste – contaminated dressings, bed rolls, and disposable gowns
  • PPE – face masks and gloves
  • WEEE waste – broken tattoo machinery
  • General waste – packaging, used paper towels, and non-recyclable waste
  • Plastic waste – clean ink caps and plastic protective coverings
  • Leftover ointments and containers
  • Cotton swabs and wipes
  • Antibacterial products

Read our reviews

James was very helpful and to be honest since starting with this company the service has been excellent.
Christeen Norfolk

Tattoo waste

  • Are tattoo needles recycled?

    No, tattoo needles are not normally recycled. Unfortunately, as they class as sharps waste and may often be contaminated with infectious materials, tattoo needles are typically disposed of through incineration. This method of disposal is far safer than disposing of them at landfill sites, where they could present a significant risk to both human and environmental health.

  • What can you do with leftover tattoo ink?

    Sometimes tattoo artists may find they have leftover tattoo ink after working with a client. This is because it can be challenging to decide the exact amount of ink needed to carry out a project. Additionally, tattoo ink has a shelf life of around two years, meaning such products can also expire relatively quickly.

    Excess or expired ink should never be set aside for use – even though some tattoo artists may use this ink for general practice. Ink waste should be stored in specialist containers after use, so the products do not leak or spill.

  • How can tattoo artists reduce waste and be green?

    There are various debates about whether tattoos are ethical, particularly concerning the environment. This is because many of the products used to make tattoos, such as inks and dyes, contain elements that could be harmful to the planet.

    Furthermore, the average tattoo artist uses many single-use products, such as PPE, bandages and ink caps, every day – making it harder to commit to genuinely sustainable practices. There are plenty of steps you can take to ensure your tattoo parlour is as eco-friendly as possible. For example, you should:

    • Recycle wherever possible.
    • Switch to a renewable energy source.
    • Purchase sustainable products for use at your business – such as ink cups made from recycled paper rather than plastic.
  • What can I do with an old tattoo machine?

    A tattoo machine classes as WEEE waste – so it’s important you dispose of it alongside such rubbish types. Here it will be broken down into its component parts and any recyclable elements sent for recycling. Any needles should be removed and treated as sharps waste. An old tattoo machine should not go to landfill.

  • How do you dispose of stick and poke needles in the UK?

    Stick and poke needles are used in non-electric tattooing, which some may see as an eco-friendlier alternative to those that use electronic tattoo machines. However, stick and poke needles still need disposing of in the same way as traditional tattoo needles that you use with a machine.

    Therefore, any used stick and poke needles should be placed in a sharps bin for collection. They’ll then be disposed of through incineration as the safest and most effective disposal method.

  • Should you throw away tattoo ink caps after using them?

    Tattoo ink caps must be disposed safely after use. While they’re made from plastic and can be cleaned, they may come into contact with the client’s blood or bodily fluids. This may be infectious so the safest option can be to dispose of tattoo ink caps with any other infectious waste in a clinically infectious waste bag.

free bins icon.

Get a fast, free quote for tattoo waste collection

Get a fast FREE quote for your tattoo waste removal

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of tattoo waste
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK