Find out more about how to deal with clinical wastes.
Clinical wastes and pre-acceptance
Clinical wastes are normally disposed of either by incineration or alternative treatment at authorised disposal sites. We are currently phasing in requirements for these sites to conduct pre-acceptance checks on wastes prior to receiving them. These pre-acceptance checks are based on a detailed audit of the waste composition and segregation at producer premises. Your waste contractor may contact you to obtain this information.
These requirements apply primarily to medical practices including hospitals, health centres, dentists, vets, pharmacies and care homes providing nursing care.
They do not apply to:
- waste from domestic premises,
- care homes that do not provide nursing/medical care,
- non-medical producers of clinical waste (for example, tattooists, body piercing, minor first aid, substance abuse, police stations, non-medical procedures in the hair and beauty industry).
Further information for producers, including the dates by which sites must complete their checks, can be found in our briefing note:
More detailed information for the authorised disposal sites can be found in our EPR 5.07 and S5.06 Appendix 6 guidance documents on the following page:
Are clinical wastes hazardous?
All clinical wastes are hazardous waste, with two exceptions:
- Segregated non-hazardous medicines;
- Clinical wastes from non-healthcare activities.
Wastes are normally clinical waste due to the presence of hazardous chemicals or pharmaceuticals, or because they may cause infection. With the exception of medicines that are classified as non-hazardous, clinical waste is therefore normally classified as hazardous waste.
What medicines are hazardous?
Any medicine that possesses one of more of the following hazardous properties is classified as ‘cytotoxic and cytostatic’ and is a hazardous waste:
- Toxic for reproduction.
This is a wide group of medicines including those found in community pharmacies and general practice.
Other medicines are not hazardous waste. Where they possess hazardous properties these should be entered on waste documentation for Duty of Care purposes.
Healthcare wastes are classified as clinical waste where they may cause infection or prove hazardous..
What are non-healthcare activities that produce clinical waste?
Non-healthcare activities that produce clinical waste are normally those that have no involvement (directly or indirectly) of a medical practitioner. Examples might include:
- Needles from the application of tattoos or body piercing;
- Needles from minor cosmetic procedures (those not requiring a medical practitioner).
Clinical waste from these activities would normally fall under Chapter 20 of the European Waste Catalogue (sometimes 20 01 99). As a result, although they should be described, packaged and managed as clinical wastes, they are classified under a non-hazardous code.
Waste from self care, arising from treatment supervised or prescribed by a medical practitioner is however, waste from a healthcare activity classified under chapter 18. An example of this would be needles produced by a diabetic patient in their own home.