Frequently Asked Questions

Offensive healthcare waste is waste generated by healthcare activities that is not infectious and doesn’t contain medicines, chemicals or sharps, but may cause offence to anyone who comes into contact with it.

Most producers of healthcare waste will generate some offensive waste so it’s likely that you do need to introduce this waste stream. It’s a legal requirement to segregate hazardous wastes (such as infectious waste) from non-hazardous wastes (such as offensive waste).

Offensive waste can be sent directly to landfill disposal, but recycling and recovery options are starting to become available allowing producers to transfer this waste stream up the waste hierarchy.

Infectious waste is waste that contains viable micro-organisms or their toxins (known collectively as pathogens) which are known or reliably believed to cause disease in humans or other living organisms.

Any waste that is known or reliably believed not to contain viable pathogens is not an infectious waste.

It’s the responsibility of the producer of the waste to correctly describe and classify their waste. For determining whether or not waste is infectious, this usually means the healthcare practitioner is responsible.

In practice healthcare practitioners often receive support in doing this from infection prevention practitioners and waste management professionals, who will assist hospitals and other healthcare facilities in drawing up policies and procedures in accordance with best practice guidance.

Hazardous waste producer returns are sent to the producer or holder of the waste, i.e. to the premises that the consignment of waste was collected from. This may differ from the consignor of the waste. For further advice please visit the government website here:

There are separate EWC codes for both non-hazardous and hazardous pharmaceutical wastes. Hazardous pharmaceutical waste (known as cytotoxic and cytostatic) should be segregated and packaged in purple lidded containers. Non-hazardous pharmaceutical wastes should be segregated into blue stream waste.

Anatomical waste should always be packaged in a rigid container with a red lid. It should never be packaged in bags.

For most producers of anatomical waste the usual frequency of healthcare waste collection is sufficient. If it’s packaged correctly it’s unlikely to cause any probIems. However if the anatomical waste is going to be stored for a long period of time (over a week) it is recommended that the waste is stored refrigerated.

Anatomical waste includes body parts or other recognisable anatomical items that may be offensive to those who come into contact with them. These include:

• all human and animal tissue (including organs, bones, limbs, digits or parts thereof) with the exception of very small unidentifiable pieces of skin or flesh incidentally removed from treatment of wounds or during very minor surgery (for example mole removal, nail clippings etc);
• retained or stored (including preserved) human tissue requiring disposal including recognisable items and all tissue samples (e.g. on blocks and slides)

Stericycle uses bespoke designed vehicles to carry all healthcare wastes, either in wheeled carts or in primary packaging. Infectious and non-infectious wastes are transported in the same vehicle, however for vehicles carrying waste in primary packages the load space is designed to enable segregation to be maintained.

All Stericycle drivers are fully trained in the company’s waste collection procedures.

All drivers engaged in the transport of dangerous goods hold the appropriate ADR qualification for the classes of dangerous goods in question. All drivers hold the appropriate driving license for the classes of vehicle they drive on behalf of the company.

We operate a rigorous routine vetting procedure to ensure that drivers hold the appropriate qualifications and licenses prior to and during their employment with us.

In England and Wales the mixing of waste streams is prohibited by law - the waste producer is legally required to correctly segregate, label, package and store their waste. In Scotland it is considered best practice.

The national colour-coded segregation system identifies and segregates waste on the basis of waste classification and suitability of treatment/disposal options.

When segregating waste you must consider both the appropriate waste stream (colour coding) and the appropriate packaging.

Compliant waste management is critical in the protection of people, the environment and our communities.

Poor waste management exposes employees, waste handlers and the community to infections, toxic effects and injuries. Such as air, water pollution, disease and needle stick injuries.

Failure to correctly segregate, store, transport and treat healthcare waste can result in pollution, prosecution, fines and bad publicity.

Clinical waste consists of waste arising from healthcare activities that could pose a risk to public health or the environment unless properly disposed of.

Clinical waste must be packaged, handled and collected under controlled conditions and cannot be disposed of with other wastes. There are legally enforced regulations covering every step in the clinical waste management process.

Defined in the Controlled Waste Regulations 2012, clinical waste is waste from a healthcare activity (including veterinary healthcare) that:

(a) contains viable micro-organisms or their toxins which are known or reliably believed to cause disease in humans or other living organisms,

(b) contains or is contaminated with a medicine that contains a biologically active pharmaceutical agent, or

(c) is a sharp, or a body fluid or other biological material (including human and animal tissue) containing or contaminated with a dangerous substance, and waste of a similar nature from a non-healthcare activity.

Clinical waste must be ‘rendered safe’ to remove the risks that it poses. Stericycle’s Clinical waste disposal processesclinical are fully compliant with all regulations, giving you the peace of mind that your waste will always be ‘rendered safe’.