How to dispose of waste correctly

Clinical waste is on the rise but it's costing the NHS money and causing huge issues in the industry.

It's unsurprising that given COVID-19 and the return of other services resuming within the NHS that our clinical waste contractor has reported a high increase in infectious clinical waste - the waste that goes into the orange bags. 

However, we're seeing that there's a 10% increase in clinical waste since the first wave of COVID-19 as people are taking a bit of a blanket approach and throwing a lot of incorrect waste into these orange bags.

Given COVID-19, people are probably unsure what should go where and are erring on the side of caution but disposing of waste incorrectly is causing huge issues for the clinical waste industry, resulting in missed collections and costing the NHS substantial amounts of money. Indeed, sending waste for heat recovery is 45% more expensive than sending waste to be recycled. 

It's therefore more important than ever to ensure that waste is being segregated into the correct bag and i'd really appreciate your help in spreading the word about this to your colleagues and putting up our posters throughout your building.

What should i dispose of where?

Infectious clinical waste including COVID-19 PPE

You should use the orange bags for infectious clinical waste only. This includes COVID-19 waste and other infectious PPE, dressings and bandages etc.

These orange clinical waste bags should not be placed in non-clinical areas such as corridors, entrances, staff rooms, kitchens and offices etc so please only place them in infectious clinical waste areas only.

Non-infectious clinical waste, including face masks in non-infectious areas

The yellow and black striped bags should be used for non-infectious clinical waste, e.g. PPE, couch roll, dressings, plasters, bandages, nappies, fem hygiene products etc. 

General waste and recycling

Paper hand towels, packaging, cardboard, plastic bottles, tins and any other waste items that aren't clinical or infectious must be disposed of in the black bags (general waste) or clear bags (recycling). Please do not put any of these waste items into the clinical bags.

How do I dispose of my facemask?

Non-clinical areas​

Facemasks produced in non-clinical areas such as office areas, canteens etc. would be classed as domestic waste and can go into black (general/domestic) waste bags. Masks should not be disposed of in clear, recycling bags.

COVID wards/areas ​

In direct COVID-19 ward areas, all PPE, including facemasks, should be disposed of in orange (infectious) waste bags.

Other healthcare clinical areas​

Facemasks worn in healthcare areas where patients, visitors and clinical staff are moving around in the healthcare environment i.e. corridors and entrances, should be disposed of in tiger (offensive) or black (general/domestic) waste bags. 

Got a question?

If you have any queries on waste, please contact your local Facilities Co-ordinator/Facilities Support Assistant or our Customer Services team. 

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