Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Clinical waste is the term used to describe medical waste produced from healthcare and similar activities that may pose a risk of infection.
Healthcare Wastes arise from human and animal healthcare, i.e. from hospitals, GP surgeries, dental surgeries, veterinary surgeries etc. and have identified EWC codes.
Please note: Not all healthcare wastes are clinical wastes.
Clinical waste can be hazardous to anyone who comes into contact with it. Clinical waste may contain:
Clinical waste also includes any other waste that could pose a risk of infection and may be produced by:
Clinical waste can be a health risk to anyone who comes into contact with it. It can be treated to be made safe.
You must separate clinical waste and non-clinical waste.
You should assess each type of material for hazards before you segregate it, and dispose of it correctly.
You must track your clinical waste and keep records of when you receive and dispose of it. You will usually need to complete hazardous / special waste consignment.
You could track your waste using:
Research alternative materials and practices to reduce clinical waste.
Consider if you can reuse or recycle your clinical waste. For example, you may be able to use it in an energy-from-waste plant.
You must ensure that clinical waste is stored and transported in suitable containers. Regularly check that storage containers are intact and that there is no risk of pollution.
Label containers adequately and securely with the name of the producer and source of the clinical waste.
If you deal with clinical waste you must ensure that you comply with your duty of care for waste.
All clinical waste is hazardous/special waste with two exceptions:
Cytotoxic substances are harmful to cell structure and function and can kill cells. Cytostatic substances prevent or limit cell growth. These substances are found in some pharmaceutical products. You should check if your waste contains these substances.
If you produce store or transport most types of clinical waste you must comply with the hazardous/special waste regulations.
Your waste carrier must transfer your clinical waste to a facility authorised to accept it. The facility must hold either:
If you transport your own waste, you must take it to a site that is authorised to accept it.
It is good practice to check that both the carrier you use and the facility they take your waste to are authorised to handle clinical waste. Ask to see proof of authorisation and keep this for your records.
Checking that your waste is taken to an authorised site is a good way to show that you have taken all reasonable steps to ensure your waste is being handled and disposed of legally.
If your clinical waste includes dead animals, or parts of animals, you will need to comply with animal by-products controls.
If your clinical waste contains radioactive substances or is contaminated by radioactive materials you must have the correct authorisation from your environmental regulator and comply with the radioactive substances and wastes regulations.
Radioactive materials are often used in diagnostic medical imaging and cancer treatments.
Waste Thesaurus: SEPA guidance for coding waste An alphabetical list of waste types with their corresponding EWC codes.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.
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