Published date: 01 December 2020

COVID-19 waste guidance

The COVID-19 outbreak has generated tens of thousands of tonnes of extra medical waste.

This has put enormous strain on the NHS and the waste industry.

That's why it's more important than ever that waste is being segregated into the correct bag or bin, especially the disposal of clinical waste, so it can be disposed of correctly and where possible, recycled.

Poster: vaccination centre waste

This poster shows how you should dispose of COVID-19 vaccination waste.

Download poster
Covid-19 vaccination centre waste guidance

Where should I dispose of clinical and general waste?

  • 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.
  • Infectious clinical waste that is also contaminated by medicines and/or chemicals
    • You must only put waste items that are both infectious and chemically contaminated (for example some samples and diagnostic kits) in the yellow bags.
  • 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.