October 08, 2020

How is Clinical Waste Disposed? 

What is Clinical Waste?

Clinical waste, also known as healthcare waste or medical waste, encompasses any waste generated during healthcare activities. 

This waste may include materials contaminated with blood, bodily fluids, or other potentially infectious substances. Proper management of clinical waste is crucial to prevent the spread of infections and protect public health and the environment.

Clinical Waste Disposal Process

After collection, waste is taken to a treatment and disposal facility to be rendered safe. The treatment and disposal facility is then required to:

  • Reduce the number of infectious organisms present in the waste to a level that protects the public and employees against infection.

  • Destroy anatomical waste so that it’s no longer recognisable.

  • Make all clinical waste (including any equipment and sharps) unusable and unrecognisable as clinical waste.

  • Destroy the component chemicals or chemical or medicinal and medically contaminated waste.

  • Use one of the following treatment options: Energy from Waste (incineration) or Alternative Treatment (see below).

No single treatment option is suitable for all waste streams because of very different risks and regulations. Whilst we recycle whenever possible, medical and hazardous wastes require special treatment because of the high potential for viruses, chemicals and other contaminants harmful to people and the environment.

Stericycle’s Clinical Waste Treatment Options

With 18 fully licensed specialist waste facilities in the UK we offer three treatment options: 

1.    Alternative treatment (AT)

AT is the heating of clinical waste to disinfect it and is used as an alternative to incineration. Once cool, the shredded disinfected waste is compacted, baled and used as an alternative fuel source/solid recovered fuel (SRF).

2.    Energy from waste (EFW)

The clinical waste is destroyed by incineration with the steam and heat produced by this process either being used to generate electricity or being used in local heating schemes. All Stericycle incinerators are EFW facilities.

3.    Bio Systems - Reusable sharps service 

Stericycle’s Bio Systems containers are reusable UN-approved puncture-resistant containers that can be used up to 600 times after washing and disinfection, as opposed to single-use containers that are disposed after just one use.

You can learn more about our clincal waste management processes or download flowcharts on each waste treatment process in our Resource Centre.