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How To Dispose Of Medical Waste

Medical waste disposal is one of those things you rarely think about, until it becomes a problem. Let's take a look at how we handle it in the UK.

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When you think of medical waste, your mind most likely first thinks of hospitals and health-based locations. And you’d be somewhat correct. In an average year, the NHS currently produces an estimated 156,000 tonnes of clinical waste. But that is only half of the store. Many more settings create hazardous or medical waste than most people assume and many do not seriously consider how it has to be disposed of. This is because, as with most things of an unpleasant nature, we rarely hear about them unless something has gone wrong. In this instance, it is either due to the mishandling of the waste, or an excess of hazardous materials that are costing the company excess money – such as unused medication.

In this blog post, we will be looking into how to dispose of medical waste as well as offering advice for any business owners or managers who may find themselves in need of a medical waste disposal service.

What is medical waste?

Medical waste is a byproduct of healthcare facilities that can be a potential source of infection and hazardous to the environment if not disposed of properly.

Medical waste is broadly classified into two categories: hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Hazardous waste includes materials that pose a risk to human health and the environment, such as sharps, chemicals, and infectious waste. On the other hand, non-hazardous waste includes materials that do not pose a significant risk, such as paper, cardboard, and plastics. In England, medical waste disposal is governed by strict regulations and guidelines to ensure the safety of healthcare workers, patients, and the general public. 

What kind of businesses require medical waste collections?

Any business or facility that generates medical waste will require medical waste collection services, and they are a lot more varied and widespread than you would initially think. This includes hospitals, clinics, laboratories, dental practices, veterinary clinics, nursing homes, and funeral homes, but also recreational facilities such as tattoo and piercing parlours, as well as shops that offer piercings or products of a personal, intimate nature.

Any business or premises that generates sharps waste  -such as acupuncture clinics, pharmacies, and tattoo shops- require medical waste collection services. It is important for these businesses to properly dispose of their medical waste to prevent the spread of disease and protect public health and the environment.

What types of medical waste are there?

It is important to understand the different types of medical waste that are produced in healthcare facilities and businesses that come into contact with -or the care of- the human body. These can include sharps (such as needles and scalpels), biological waste (such as blood and body fluids), pharmaceutical waste (such as expired or unused medications), and chemical waste (such as disinfectants and laboratory chemicals).

Sharps waste is one of the most hazardous types of medical waste due to the risk of needlestick injuries. It should be placed in a puncture-proof container immediately after use and stored in a designated area until it is collected by a licensed waste management company, such as VR Sani-Co. These companies will then transport the sharps waste to a licensed facility for treatment and disposal.

Biological waste, such as blood and body fluids, should be collected in a leak-proof container that is labelled with the appropriate biohazard symbol and stored in a designated area until collection. The waste management company will then transport the waste to a licensed facility for treatment and disposal.

Pharmaceutical waste, such as expired or unused medications, should be segregated from other types of waste and stored separately. Healthcare facilities should have a pharmaceutical waste management plan in place that outlines the proper disposal methods for different types of medications. Some medications may be able to be returned to the manufacturer for disposal, while others may need to be incinerated.

Chemical waste, such as disinfectants and laboratory chemicals, should be segregated and stored in a designated area until collection. The waste management company will then transport the waste to a licensed facility for treatment and disposal.

In addition to these specific types of medical waste, healthcare facilities may also produce general waste, such as food packaging and office waste. This waste should be segregated and disposed of according to the local council’s guidelines for general waste.

Healthcare facilities need to have a waste management plan in place that outlines the proper procedures for disposing of different types of medical waste. The plan should also include information on the designated storage areas for each type of waste, the frequency of waste collection, and the documentation required for tracking the waste from generation to disposal.

So, how do I get rid of Medical Waste?

Medical waste disposal is a critical aspect of the running of any kind of healthcare facility or business that deals with the human body. The safe disposal of medical waste is crucial to ensuring the health and safety of healthcare workers, patients, and the environment. Healthcare facilities in the UK should follow the regulatory guidelines for medical waste management and have a waste management plan in place to ensure the proper segregation, storage, and disposal of different types of medical waste. By doing so, they can help to reduce the risk of infection and protect the environment.

VR Sani-Co runs a variety of medical waste collections, with the correct corresponding bins and disposal units for each type of waste. Due to the hazardous nature of medical waste, there are a few items we cannot collect. For more information, give us a call or take a look at our website.

A pile of medical waste, including open needles, vials and a used medical mask.

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A pile of medical waste, including open needles, vials and a used medical mask.
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How To Dispose Of Medical Waste

Medical waste disposal is one of those things you rarely think about, until it becomes a problem. Let’s take a look at how we handle it in the UK.