April 26, 2024

Dental Waste Disposal: What Practices Should Know

Dental practices generate a lot of waste day-to-day, including contaminated materials and hazardous chemicals, which require careful handling and disposal to ensure compliance with regulations and protect public health. If you work in or own a dental practice and are unsure about the standards of dental waste disposal, this blog post will explain everything you need to know.

What is dental waste?

Dental waste can refer to a wide range of materials, including sharps such as needles and scalpel blades; amalgam waste from dental fillings; biomedical waste like extracted teeth; and chemical waste such as disinfectants and chemicals. Improper disposal of this waste can pose serious health and environmental risks for both patients and staff. That’s why it’s essential for dental practices to follow stringent protocols for waste management.

UK dental waste regulations

In the UK, dental practices are subject to regulations around the disposal of healthcare waste, including the Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 and the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005. These regulations outline specific requirements for the segregation, packaging, storage, transport, and disposal of different types of dental waste to minimise risks to staff, patients, and the environment.

Best practices for dental waste disposal


Proper separation and segregation of dental waste is crucial to ensure that different types of waste are handled properly. Dental practices should use colour-coded bins or containers to segregate sharps, amalgam waste, biomedical waste, and chemical waste. All staff should be aware of the colours assigned to each type of waste, and how to dispose of each properly.


The type of material used to contain waste is also important for health and safety. Waste should be securely packaged in leak-proof and puncture-resistant containers that are clearly labeled with the type of waste and any associated hazards. Sharps containers should be rigid and tamper-proof to prevent any accidental needlestick injuries.


Dental waste should be stored in designated areas away from patient treatment and waiting areas, so no unauthorised person can access them. Storage areas should be well-ventilated, secure and equipped with appropriate spill containment measures.


When your practice is ready to transport waste off-site for disposal, you must use licensed waste carriers who are certified to handle this kind of waste. Dental waste should also be accompanied by any relevant paperwork, such as waste transfer notes.


Dental practices can work with a licensed waste management company like Stericycle to ensure the safe and compliant disposal of dental waste. Stericycle offers specialised dental waste disposal services, including the collection, treatment, and disposal of sharps, amalgam waste, and other dental materials, helping practices meet regulatory requirements and minimise their environmental impact.