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Hospital Waste Management – A Complete Guide

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Hospital waste

At any given time, a medical facility is likely to be dealing with a multitude of varying hospital waste.

Whether it’s general waiting room waste, hazardous materials, or something else entirely, the sheer volume can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to improve your hospital’s waste management practices.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind.

How do I conduct a hospital waste audit?

The first step to improving your hospital’s waste management is to know what kinds of materials you’re dealing with, and how much you have.

This means understanding the rules around medical waste in the UK – and it also means taking an honest look at what’s actually happening on your premises so that you can figure out where improvements are needed.


Once you’ve done this, it’s time to conduct a full audit of all components and processes related to your hospital’s waste management practices: everything from who handles which types of materials (and whether they’re properly trained), down to where they’re stored when not in-use.

This will give you a clear picture of how well—or poorly—your current system works and help identify areas where changes are needed.

What type of training and education should I provide staff?

Training is a critical part of any waste management program, as it helps to ensure that your medical staff is following the right procedures. Make sure all staff understand how important it is to keep health care facilities clean, safe, and free from contamination.

Each facility will have differences in their requirements, but even the least complicated processes should be reviewed regularly. Remind staff what could happen if they do not follow these instructions, such as fines being levied against you by local authorities or even criminal charges if serious health violations occur because of improper disposal methods (e.g., an outbreak).

Should I invest in reusable medical products?

Reusable medical products have become a popular trend in the UK, and for a few good reasons.

Hospital scissors and scalpels

The major benefits of reusable medical products include:

  • Reducing overall hospital waste: By using reusable medical supplies, you’re able to cut down on the amount of trash your facility produces and reduce the amount of money spent on disposal services.
  • Protecting the environment: With reusable items, you’re reducing your carbon footprint. This is particularly helpful in a medical setting, especially when you’re dealing with potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • Saving money: Reusable medical equipment is less expensive than disposable alternatives in the long run. This can be especially beneficial for facilities where budgets are tight, and resources are limited.
  • Improving care quality: Finally, opting for reusable medical products increases the amount of time you can spend on each patient, as you’ll be focusing less on throwing away and refilling supplies.

Should I also reduce my usage of hazardous materials?

As a hospital, you are likely to have a lot of hazardous materials on hand. Unfortunately, there may not be an alternative for some products that require toxic chemicals for their production or use.

However, there are plenty of other ways to reduce hazardous hospital waste by simply using less harmful options instead. For instance, rather than use tools or equipment containing mercury (which are commonly used for diagnostic purposes), you can switch to digital and electronic alternatives—preventing numerous health hazards in the process.

How can I manage sharps waste?

Sharps are defined as any object that has a sharp edge or point, such as needles and scalpels. They’re also some of the most commonly used items in hospitals worldwide: The World Health Organization estimates that 16 billion injections are administered yearly, worldwide. So, it’s no surprise that the sheer amount of waste they cause can become a problem!

Hospital syringe waste

Due to their dangerous nature, your staff needs to be very careful about how it manages this type of hospital trash. Be sure everyone is well-trained in how to handle sharps, as well as where to dispose of them after use (install containers specifically made for sharps, if you haven’t already). Finally, make sure your patients are as far removed from accessing them as possible.

Should I segregate and label my hospital waste containers?

The next thing you can do to improve your waste management is to make sure that your staff segregate their waste properly. This will help ensure that hazardous and non-hazardous waste are stored separately, and that any cross-contamination doesn’t occur.

You could use different colours for different types of waste (e.g., red for clinical and blue for non-clinical), or simply label the containers clearly with stickers: “Hazardous Waste”; “Non-Hazardous Waste”; “General Waste” etc. Some of your clinical waste bins may already be labelled for you.

Whatever method you choose, make sure it’s consistent across all departments within the hospital. You don’t want staff to get confused about where their garbage should go!

If you’re unsure what type of clinical waste bins you need our team are happy to help. Just fill in our quick quote form here and select the ‘Other/Unsure’ option.

What kind of waste policy should I have in place?

Finally, it’s most important to have a policy in place that explains your hospital’s waste management.

Here are some common concerns you might want to address with yours:

  • How to dispose of sharps?
  • What do you do with used bandages, dressings, or other materials?
  • What do you do with expired medications and other controlled substances that need to be disposed of?
  • What do you do with medical waste that’s contaminated but not hazardous?
  • What happens when there is blood or bodily fluids on medical equipment, such as needles or swabs?
  • How will waste containers be segregated?
  • Who is the primary contact if something goes wrong?

Hospital waste in a bin

What do I look for in a hospital waste disposal service?

To keep your operations running smoothly, consider looking for a waste disposal service that’s experienced in the healthcare industry.

Your options are many, so you’ll want to make sure you choose one that can offer a full range of services, including collection, recycling, and disposal. Search for flexible payment options as well—you may have deadlines to meet and tight budgets to adhere to.

Fortunately, you don’t need to look far: WasteManaged provides all these services and more at the highest quality possible. Request a free quote today to learn how we can help your medical facility thrive!

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