When running a veterinary practice, your main aim will be to provide animals with the best possible care, ensuring that they feel like themselves again in no time. However, throughout the process, you will also produce large volumes of waste – from sharps and pharmaceutical waste – and it’s important that this waste is disposed of in a safe and secure manner.
With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about veterinary waste and veterinary waste disposal.
What is Veterinary Waste?
To put it simply, veterinary waste refers to any waste produced within a vets practice or surgery. This could include:
Expired or superfluous medications.
Swabs & bandages.
Sharps (Needles, Syringes, lancets).
PPE (Aprons, gloves, face masks)
Animal training pads & bedding.
Antibacterial/Antiseptic cleaning products.
Offensive waste (Waste that has been contaminated with excrement or similar products).
General waste produced in the daily running of your business.
Plastic or packaging waste.
Is veterinary classed as clinical waste?
The vast majority of waste produced within a veterinary practice is classified as clinical waste – due to the fact that it is produced within a healthcare setting and could be potentially hazardous to those who come into contact with it. As such, there are numerous legislations in place that dictate how this waste should be stored and disposed of.
What is the waste legislation for veterinary waste?
Veterinary practices must obey the same waste regulation laws as any other business operating within the UK. This means that they must ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to appropriately manage and dispose of any waste that is produced at their facility. They must also do so with the environment in mind. This obligation is often described as a ‘duty of care’ and is laid out in the Environmental protection act. This legislation works in conjunction with the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012, which classified clinical waste as a controlled substance that must be disposed of with care.
Hazardous Waste Regulations (2009)
This legislation requires vets to identify any hazardous waste produced within their facility and to store it accordingly. For example, it should be stored separately from other waste within a secure container to minimise the chances of cross-contamination. They must also contact the Environment Agency to inform them of the waste they produce and complete a consignment note when the waste is collected.
What bins and containers are used to store veterinary waste?
As the average veterinary practice will produce large volumes of waste on a daily basis – they must have a strong waste management plan in place – that allows them to safely store and dispose of their waste.
As a result, there are various different bins & containers used to safely store veterinary waste before collection. This includes:
Cytotoxic and cytostatic waste bags. Cytotoxic and cytostatic waste bags are purple in colour so that you can differentiate between them and other kinds of waste. They can be used to store medicinal vials and containers, patches, disposable PPE garments and wipes.
Anatomical waste bag. Anatomical waste bags are red and are used to store items such as body parts (cadavers) or blood bags before disposal.
Non-infectious clinical waste bags. This form of clinical waste bag is used to dispose of waste that is non-infectious but could still present a threat to public health and safety. This could include animal training pads, wipes and offensive waste.
Yellow clinical waste bags. Yellow clinical waste bags are used to dispose of waste that has been classified as hazardous – such as bandages or garments which may have been contaminated with bodily fluids.
Wheelie Bins. This wheelie bin can be used to store hazardous waste before collection and can typically store between 10 – 12 bags of waste.
Sharps Bins. Sharps bins are used to dispose of sharps waste such as needles, syringes and scalpels. They are colour coded and made of durable material that cannot easily be pierced or damaged.
Is animal waste classed as infectious waste?
The vast majority of the waste produced within a veterinary practice could be considered hazardous or infectious. For example, animal waste products containing blood or bodily fluids are dangerous because they could be contaminated with viruses or diseases, which could spread should someone come into contact with them.
How do vets dispose of infected waste?
Put together an effective waste management plan.
Ensure that all health and safety regulations are followed within their practice, especially when handling hazardous or infectious waste.
Store all waste in the appropriate bins and containers prior to collection in an area that is not immediately accessible to the general public.
Ensure that the waste is collected by a licensed carrier and that a waste transfer note is completed.
How do you dispose of Vets Sharps in the UK?
Ensure that you are wearing the appropriate PPE when disposing of any items that could pierce the skin.
Do not attempt to bend or break sharps before disposal, as this could lead to accident and injury and interfere with the disposal process.
Use a needle clipper where appropriate to remove the sharp part of the syringe.
Dispose of waste in the appropriate sharps bin immediately after use – and do not overfill the bins.
Arrange for the waste to be collected.
How can you reduce veterinary waste?
Reducing the amount of single-use plastics or similar products used on-site.
Setting up a recycling scheme within the practice, ensuring that all members of staff are aware of the steps they can take to reduce waste.
Carefully managing stock and supplies, ensuring that you are aware of the use-by dates on medications and similar products.
Invest in reusable PPE garments, such as surgical masks, to avoid throwing away countless items in a single day.
Donate materials that you no longer need (but remain useful) to local charities. For example, animal shelters will always accept donations of bedding and blankets.
How often can veterinary waste be collected?
How can Business waste help you?
At BusinessWaste, we’re always on hand to help businesses – big and small – dispose of their waste in a safe and secure manner – including veterinary practices across the country. When working with BusinessWaste, we can help you with all areas of waste disposal – from storage to collection, or even provide you with solutions you can use to minimise your waste. Even better, working with BusinessWaste means working with the environment in mind as we treat landfills as a last resort.
For more information, get in touch today!