So what’s the big deal about clinical waste segregation

Wasting away: how companies can save money on clinical waste segregation 

We all know that immunisation saves lives, but have you ever wondered about the clinical waste that mass vaccinations programmes, such as the MMR produce?  Every year, the World Health Organization estimates 16 billion injections are administered worldwide.

Figures like this show just how much waste is created by the healthcare sector on an annual basis. The UK has strict regulations around the collection, storage and disposal of healthcare waste and they apply to everyone involved in clinical waste management, from producer (such as NHS Trusts, dental practices, opticians, pharmacies and general practices) to disposer.

Waste segregation is a serious issue on many levels, such as environmental and health & safety. Getting the waste streams right through correct classification has important benefits:

  • Cost: Improved segregation has been proven to save money. A NHS hospital in Dunfermline saved over £18,000 following improvements in how to reduce, reuse and recycle rental units. As a result, more material was able to be diverted into domestic standard waste disposal as opposed to entering the clinical waste stream
  • Environmental: Hazardous waste requires stringent regulation to ensure its environmental impact is safely controlled.  Non-hazardous waste is reduced as far as possible that, in turn, ensures less carbon is produced.
  • Health and safety: Staff and patients are protected from dangerous exposure to medicines, contaminated equipment and sharps. A 2008 survey by the Royal College of Nursing**, found that 48% of respondents said that, at some point in their careers, they had been injured by a needle or other sharp that had been used on a patient.

Waste-segregation specialists

Citron Hygiene has extensive experience of clinical waste segregation, and we understand that it can be a difficult maze for many to navigate.  Here we answer some of the most common questions we get asked about waste segregation.

Why do I have to segregate clinical waste?

The mixing of clinical waste is prohibited in UK and Wales. This means waste must be properly sorted into the correct classification systems. A producer of healthcare waste is legally required to classify and describe their waste.

Whose responsibility is it to describe the clinical waste correctly?

The responsibility lies with the producer to classify and describe the waste. Failing to do so can lead to its unauthorised disposal.

Can’t the waste just be incinerated?

No. Different wastes have clearly defined disposal options. Legally disposing of mixed waste is very expensive and problematic.  In some cases, additional segregation of the waste into further categories may also be required, resulting in additional costs rather than segregating at source.

How do I segregate the clinical waste safely and correctly?

The Department of Health states that producers should adopt the colour-coded waste segregation system to aid the identification and segregation of their waste. It is anticipated that, by adopting the system as best practice, standardisation can be achieved across the UK. The colour-coded waste segregation guides also represent best practice in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What is the colour coded waste system?

The system is designed for easy recognition and handling by producers and disposers. Each colour represents a specific category of clinical waste, Such as yellow lidded hard clinical units for hard or breakable items e.g., glassware, dental impressions and surgical instruments. (Found in dental practices).

What other benefits are there from using the colour-coded waste system?

Segregating clinical waste according to the colour system is essential for good waste management. It ensures that the waste is handled, transported and disposed of safely and effectively. It supports staff training and it also helps waste contractors and the packaging industry.

Do I have to use the colour-coded waste system?

Whilst the adoption of the system isn’t mandatory, the segregation of waste in the UK and Wales is a minimum requirement.  The colour-coded system helps avoid any potential mixing of waste and ensures that the legal requirements to segregate waste are met.

Need further help?

We are licensed to collect and dispose of your clinical waste and ensure your business is fully compliant with Health & Safety and Duty of Care and Guidance Regulation.

Our dedicated staff are trained in waste disposal requirements and our nationwide service ensures you have a local, friendly team on hand to keep your business running smoothly. For further enquiries please contact us.

Refs: (Page 78 for the case study)

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