Clinical Waste Disposal 2023: What To Know About Business Clinical Waste ⚕️
Clinical waste disposal: As a business that generates clinical waste or medical waste, you need to make yourself aware that you have to handle it in a specific manner and cannot dispose of it in general waste (your red bin), treating it as common garbage. Clinical waste is hazardous for human health and needs to be disposed of in line with relevant legislation (described below).
You could be operating a doctor’s surgery, a dental practice or also a tattoo parlour etc. Please see the detail below as to what can qualify as safe clinical waste disposal from a waste management perspective in Australia.
The EPA in your city or state regulates your requirements regarding handling clinical waste in healthcare and medical waste. For example, the Victoria EPA set the regulations in Melbourne and Victoria.
See a detailed document here showing your requirements under the Victoria EPA for handling clinical waste.
The criteria will vary slightly in some areas depending on the State or Territory in which you are located – but will be similar in most aspects.
What sort of businesses need to think about when handling clinical waste disposal?
You may be asking yourself what type of business generates clinical waste / medical waste from an EPA perspective and what your requirements are legal.
As per the Victoria EPA – clinical waste in healthcare includes the following – “Generators of clinical and related waste include (but are not restricted to):
- acupuncture clinics
- collections of sharps and clinical and related waste from commercial buildings and workplaces (e.g. First aid waste)
- dental practitioners
- emergency services
- funeral parlours
- home healthcare
- long-term healthcare facilities
- needle exchange programs
- pathology laboratories
Hospitals and other larger-scale waste generators should refer to the Code of Practice for specific guidance on meeting waste management requirements”.
What materials are classified under clinical waste disposal? What is clinical waste, what is the definition of clinical waste?
If you are a business owner – you may be uncertain as to what is clinical waste meaning in your circumstances – i.e. an accurate definition of clinical waste and clinical waste categories. Knowing what constitutes handling clinical waste can be vitally important to ensure you comply with correct procedures.
The exact clinical waste definition and clinical waste examples will vary slightly State by State in Australia but is broadly in line.
As per NSW EPA, the definition of what does clinical waste include is as per below – where they provide 3 or 4 examples:
Types of Clinical waste means any waste resulting from medical, nursing, dental, pharmaceutical, skin penetration or other related clinical activity, being waste that has the potential to cause injury, infection or offence, and includes waste containing any of the following (categories of clinical waste):
human tissue (other than hair, teeth and nails)
bulk body fluids or blood
visibly blood-stained body fluids, materials or equipment
laboratory specimens or cultures
As per the Victoria EPA, “Wastes arising from medical, nursing, dental, veterinary, laboratory, pharmaceutical, podiatry, tattooing, body piercing, brothels, emergency services, blood banks, mortuary practices and other similar practices, and wastes generated in healthcare facilities or other facilities during the investigation or treatment of patients or research projects“.
Types of clinical waste categories include:
B. a clinical specimen such as blood or tissue
C. A specimen of urine or faeces is taken for laboratory testing includes specimens for analysis to ascertain disease status.
D. A laboratory culture
E. Human tissue
F. Tissue, carcasses or other waste arising from animals used for laboratory investigation or for medical or veterinary research other than psychological testing.
G. Human blood or body fluids other than urine or faeces.
H. Materials or equipment containing human blood or body fluids
I. Urine or faeces, or materials or equipment containing urine or faeces, where there is visible blood
J. Waste from patients known to have, or suspected of having a communicable disease
This definition as to what constitutes clinical waste is vitally important for correct procedures regarding what is clinical waste in a care home, what is clinical waste in hospitals etc.
Note that Waster offers rubber glove recycling services through TerraCycle. However, this service is not suitable for gloves that have come into contact with bodily fluids. In that instance, you should dispose of the gloves in a clinical waste container.
What are the relevant regulations/legislation and guidelines for your business operations?
So now that we know what clinical waste is and the definition, the next question to ask is, what do the clinical waste legislation and regulations tell us to do and do we need a company clinical waste policy?
In each Australian State and Territory – whether Vic or Qld or NSW, you must follow the various clinical waste guidelines, regulations and legislation from your EPA and make sure your business clinical waste policy is in line. The regulations cover everything from the safe handling of infected or soiled linen and clinical waste to transporting clinical waste between sites subject for disposal.
Different jurisdictions overseas have different clinical waste classifications – such as clinical waste ewc codes in the United Kingdom.
Clinical waste regulations in Australia stem from the Clinical Waste Act 1990 – which you can see documentation on here. There is also an Australian and NZ standard – “AS NZS 3816 1998 management of clinical and related wastes” – see PDF version here.
Your requirements under clinical waste disposal regulations
“It is essential that clinical and related wastes are properly segregated, packaged, labelled, handled and transported to minimise risk to waste handlers and the community, such as needle stick injuries and transmission of infectious diseases. All sharps and other waste containers should meet the specific Australian Standards requirements. Clinical cytotoxic waste and related waste must be segregated and identified by colour coding and marked according to the following:
Colour code – clinical waste bins Australia: yellow
Wording: clinical waste displayed on at least 2 sides
Clinical waste sign: black biological hazard
Clinical waste symbol/logo: as above.
The clinical waste logo or clinical waste symbol should be clearly marked on the bags, sacks or bins.
The logo or symbol used is the “biohazard symbol as normally found on substances, materials, and containers that have biohazards. These are substances that pose a potential danger or risk to human life.”
“As an international symbol, it is used worldwide to indicate the presence of biohazard agent. It was developed in 1966 by Charles L. Baldwin of Dow Chemicals and Robert S. Runkle of the NIH.”
For staff education and to facilitate effective clinical waste segregation from non-clinical waste – you should utilise clinical waste disposal posters in suitable locations.
Using a suitable and clear clinical waste poster – with the symbol as above – will facilitate correct treatment and safe handling of the waste.
“Where small quantities of clinical waste bin and related waste are being generated, effective storage can be achieved using 120/240-litre mobile garbage bin (wheelie bins)”.
Do you need a clinical waste management plan?
It makes sense for a business to have a documented clinical waste management and disposal plan or stored policy – whether as pdf, ppt etc. This should document your procedures as to how you should manage clinical waste, segregate management of clinical and related wastes from general waste etc.
This clinical waste management plan should be maintained and updated as appropriate.
Clinical waste bins Australia: sizes and options
The bins or clinical waste containers should be clearly colour-coded as per the clinical waste bin size below. The bin in the image is a clinical waste 240-litre wheelie bins. We can also provide the collection service in 120-litre bins or 20-litre medical waste pails.
Clinical waste bin bags: yellow or orange bin bags?
In Australia – plastic clinical waste bin bags – or any clinical waste disposal bags (also called clinical waste sacks) should have a yellow coloured as per the bin colouring above. The colour of clinical waste bags in all States and Territories in Australia is yellow.
Businesses can use small clinical waste bags / clinical waste sacks – i.e. clinical waste plastic bags to line the bins or for easy transport inside your location.
Note that the colour for clinical waste bin liners can also be orange. Additionally, please see the document from SA EPA here.
Where does the clinical waste go? (i.e., how should we dispose of clinical waste)?
Once the clinical waste has been collected in a bin, bag, sack or pail as above and ready for disposal – you may be asking what is the final clinical waste treatment – i.e. what happens to the clinical waste.
As the contents can be hazardous – the clinical waste collected will be treated either through incineration or through an autoclave. The clinical waste incineration process – or autoclave process will see any bacterial components killed by the heat.
Whether the contents will go through a clinical waste incineration process or autoclave will depend on the location. You can see more on an autoclave here.
How to choose clinical waste disposal companies for your business
As a business, you have enough to worry about and need peace of mind that your clinical waste contractors are competent and professional.
Choosing qualified clinical waste collection companies will save you a lot of hassle later on. Most councils will not provide clinical waste services for business – so you will require clinical waste solutions from a commercial provider.
How Waster can help you with clinical waste disposal
Waster offers low-cost, reliable and fully accredited and licensed medical waste collection services in both plastic clinical waste bins – 120-litre and 240-litre size clinical waste containers.
The service will involve the provision of bins/containers and collection on a regular schedule. The medical waste will be taken for safe disposal – i.e. either autoclave or incineration depending on the location.
Waster provides services nationwide – including clinical waste disposal QLD, clinical waste disposal NSW and regional services such as in Newcastle, Ballarat etc.
Waster has recently been covered in the Australian press: Uber of Waste. You can check prices and book your required service by pushing the blue button below:
See our blog on medical waste disposal in Sydney.
Correct and safe disposal of hazardous clinical waste and treatment of your waste streams and of course medical waste bins is a business responsibility.
Organising correct and reliable and safe management of healthcare waste and hazardous wastes can be very cost-effective and will ensure you prevent any issues down the line with compliance and health and safety. You can thus minimise waste disposal costs and provide a safe work environment for all.
Check out how a small office version of an autoclave works. Industrial autoclaves are much larger!