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Proper disposal of tattoo waste is essential to ensure the safety of artists, clients, and the environment. 

We provide the best practices for tattoo waste collection and disposal in the UK, covering various types of waste, delivering your bins for free, ensuring you’re legally compliant, and disposing of your waste in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Get a quote now.

How do I dispose of tattoo waste in the UK?

When it comes to tattoo waste disposal in the UK, it is crucial to adhere to specific guidelines.

Tattoo waste, including items contaminated with blood or bodily fluids, is considered clinical waste

Such waste should be handled and disposed of appropriately. 

Tattoo parlour business owners should, therefore, use a professional waste collection company to dispose of their waste in a safe and responsible way.

What type of waste do tattoo shops produce?

Tattoo shops generate different types of waste, including:

Single-use gloves

Dispose of used gloves as clinical waste to prevent cross-contamination.

Needles and sharps

These items should never be disposed of in regular bins. They should be collected in puncture-proof containers specifically designed for sharps disposal.

tattoo sharps waste disposal bin

Ink containers and cartridges

Empty ink containers and cartridges should be cleaned and disposed of according to local regulations. Empty containers can often be recycled, so check with your local recycling centre.

Disposable razors and paper towels

These items may be considered general waste, but it’s best to consult local waste management guidelines to ensure proper disposal.

Cleaning supplies

Dispose of used cleaning materials in accordance with local regulations.

What bins do tattoo shops need?

Tattoo shops should have the following types of bins for proper waste segregation:

Clinical waste bins

These bins are specifically designed for the disposal of clinical waste, such as contaminated gloves, bandages, and any items that may have come into contact with blood or bodily fluids.

yellow clinical waste bin close up shot

Sharps bins

Sharps bins are essential for the safe disposal of used needles, razors, and other sharp objects. They should be puncture-proof and compliant with waste regulations.

General waste bins

These bins are for non-hazardous waste generated during the tattooing process, such as paper towels, non-contaminated gloves, and empty ink containers.

What do tattoo artists do with leftover ink?

Leftover ink should be handled and disposed of properly. Tattoo artists can consider the following options:

  • Properly seal and store the ink for future use.
  • Share leftover ink with other artists in the studio.
  • Donate unused ink to apprentices or aspiring artists.
  • Or have a waste management company like us collect it for you

What is tattoo waste classed as?

Tattoo waste, including items contaminated with blood or bodily fluids, is classified as clinical waste. 

It requires special handling and disposal procedures to minimise the risk of infection and potential harm to the environment.

Is it illegal to put tattoo needles in a normal bin?

Yes, it is illegal and highly dangerous to dispose of tattoo needles in a normal bin. 

Sharps, including tattoo needles, must be collected and stored in puncture-proof containers designed for safe disposal. 

Proper handling and disposal of sharps are crucial to prevent injuries and the spread of infectious diseases.

holding a tattoo needle

Are tattoo needles recycled?

Tattoo needles should never be recycled due to safety concerns. 

Once used, they should be properly disposed of in designated sharps containers. 

Recycling facilities do not have the appropriate means to handle these items safely.

How can tattoo artists reduce waste and be environmentally friendly?

Tattoo artists can adopt several practices to minimise waste and be more environmentally friendly:

  • Purchase ink in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
  • Opt for digital communication and minimise paper usage.
  • Consider using reusable or biodegradable materials whenever possible, such as eco-friendly barrier films and compostable ink cups.
  • Properly maintain tattoo equipment to extend its lifespan.
  • Donate or sell old tattoo machines to artists who can refurbish or reuse them.
  • Educate clients about proper aftercare to minimise the need for excessive waste, such as excessive bandaging or plastic wraps.

What can I do with an old tattoo machine?

Rather than discarding an old tattoo machine (which we can collect for you), consider the following options:

  • Sell or donate it to artists who can refurbish or repurpose it.
  • Keep it as a backup or for spare parts.
  • Explore recycling options for electronic equipment in your area.

two tattoo machines

How do you dispose of stick and poke needles in the UK?

Stick and poke needles, like other tattoo needles, should be disposed of in puncture-proof sharps containers. 

Proper containment and disposal of these needles are essential to prevent injuries and the spread of infectious diseases.

Should you throw away tattoo ink caps after using them?

Tattoo ink caps are generally single-use items and should be disposed of after each session.

However, consider using biodegradable or compostable ink caps to reduce environmental impact. 

tatoo waste disposal inks

What are the UK legislation and EWC codes for tattoo waste disposal?

In the UK, tattoo waste disposal is regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Controlled Waste Regulations 2012

The European Waste Catalogue (EWC) codes that may apply to tattoo waste include 18 01 03 (wastes from human or animal health care that may contain infectious substances) and 18 01 08 (wastes from the production and preparation of inks).

Get a quote for tattoo waste disposal

Proper tattoo waste collection and disposal are vital for maintaining a safe and environmentally responsible tattooing practice. 

We have over 12 years of experience collecting tattoo waste for businesses all across the UK. 

Get a quote and see how much you can save with us today.

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