Care Home Waste Guide 2024

Care home staff bandaging an elderly resident

For UK business owners operating within the care home sector, effective waste management is not just a regulatory requirement; it’s a crucial aspect of providing safe, hygienic, and comfortable living conditions for residents.

This guide explains everything you need to know about care home waste management, ensuring that your care home waste disposal practices comply with UK laws and regulations.

Table of Contents

What is Care Home Waste?

Care home waste comprises all types of waste generated within a care home setting, including waste from medical treatments, personal care, food preparation, and everyday activities of residents and staff.

Managing this waste properly is essential to minimise health risks and environmental impact.

Common examples of care home waste include:

  • Expired medication

  • Sanitary waste

  • Leftover food plate scrapings

  • Used needles & syringes

  • Used dressings

  • Gloves & masks

  • IV bags and tubing

  • Blood or bodily fluid samples

  • Recyclable material like paper, card etc

What Are the Different Types of Care Home Waste?

Understanding the types of care home waste is fundamental to implementing effective disposal strategies. These types include:

  • Clinical Waste: Items that have been in contact with body fluids and may pose a risk of infection.
  • Pharmaceutical Waste: Expired or unused medications.
  • Sharps Waste: Needles, blades, and other sharp instruments used in medical care.
  • Food Waste: Any food wasted during the preparation of resident and staff meals, dropped food, and plate scrapings.
  • General Waste: Non-hazardous waste similar to household waste, including food waste, packaging, and non-infectious materials.
    Sometimes you may have to dispose of mattresses too.
  • Hazardous Waste: Chemicals and materials that pose a risk to health or the environment, excluding infectious waste.
Inside a UK care home

How Are the Different Types of Care Home Waste Disposed of Safely?

Safe disposal of care home waste involves:

  • Clinical and Sharps Waste: Using designated bags and containers in addition to arranging for disposal by licensed care home waste collection services like Waste Managed.
  • Pharmaceutical Waste: Collecting in specific blue bins and ensuring destruction under controlled conditions.
  • Sanitary Waste: You’ll need to have dedicated sanitary bins and bags and arrange for regular collections.
  • Food Waste: All food waste needs to go into a dedicated food waste bin where it can then be collected and taken to be turned into energy, animal feed or fertiliser.
  • General Waste: Disposing of in standard waste bins, with consideration for recycling where possible.
  • Mixed Recycling: Any recyclable material needs to be kept dry and put into a separate recycling bin to await collection from your chosen waste management servicer.
  • Hazardous Waste: Segregating from other waste types and using specialist disposal services to manage it according to its specific requirements.

Who Collects the Waste from Care Homes?

If you’re a private care home, you’ll need to arrange for commercial waste collections.

Your waste collector will provide your bins (for free if you use Waste Managed), you fill them up and they’ll be around on your scheduled days to empty them.

Back of a commercial waste collection truck

Why is Care Home Waste Management Important?

Effective care home waste management is vital for:

  • Protecting Health: Minimises the risk of infections and diseases.
  • Environmental Responsibility: Reduces pollution and the impact of waste on the environment.
  • Legal Compliance: Ensures that care homes meet statutory obligations and avoid penalties.

Want to know more about how to reduce plastic waste in Care Homes? Read our blog!

What Are the UK Laws and Regulations for Care Home Waste?

UK legislation governing care home waste includes:

Care homes must adhere to these and other relevant regulations to manage their waste legally and safely.

Red business wheelie bins outside a care home

Care Home Waste Statistics

  • 64% of care homes in the UK aren’t aware of the legislation from the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Environmental Act, which plans to make recycling food waste a legal requirement in England. It already is in Wales.

  • 48% of UK care homes do not think food waste is a core priority, but on average each home spends around £50,862 a year on sending their food to landfill instead of having a dedicated food waste recycling service.

  • £50 million worth (17%) of NHS-supplied medications are disposed of every year by care homes.


For UK care home business owners, understanding effective waste management is non-negotiable.

By familiarising yourself with the types of waste, implementing robust disposal methods, and adhering to legal frameworks, care homes can ensure a safe, clean, and compliant environment.


  • How should you dispose of controlled drugs in a care home in the UK?
  • Who is responsible for correct waste disposal in a care home?
  • What care home waste is considered hazardous?

Get low-cost waste collections for your business

  • 30,000+ customers
  • 12+ years experience
  • Free bins & delivery
  • All UK locations

“Environmentally friendly waste collection and disposal services at an affordable fixed monthly price.”

The Times Logo
Get a Quote Call Us