Healthcare waste is waste produced from medical or similar activities. Healthcare waste is disposed of in different ways depending on what it is. Most healthcare waste does not require specialist collection as it is not hazardous or infectious. The different types and their disposal methods are explained below.
Some waste is contaminated with non-infectious bodily fluids and although not hazardous, it may cause offence. This includes disposable nappies, incontinence pads and sanitary protection. These items should be double bagged before being placed in your refuse bin.
For alternatives to disposable nappies, see our real nappy webpage. Reusable alternatives to disposable sanitary protection are also available, search online or visit your local healthfood store.
Healthcare waste from self-treatment at home
Unless you are suffering from an infectious disease, items such as plasters, dressings, stoma and catheter bags can be securely double bagged and placed in your refuse bin.
If your waste is infectious we will need to collect it separately. Your GP or healthcare professional will need to make a referral to us to arrange for a free residential healthcare waste collection.
Hypodermic needles, whatever their use, should always be placed in an appropriate container (a sharps box), and should never be disposed of in the domestic waste stream.
If you are a self-medicating patient, for example if you have diabetes and you administer your own injections, your GP or healthcare professional should prescribe you a sharps box and advise you of local disposal options. Usually you can dispose of your sharps box at your GP surgery or a pharmacy.
If a healthcare professional administers your injections they will dispose of the used needles.
Patients being treated at home
Any waste produced as a result of medical treatment carried out in your home is legally the responsibility of the healthcare professional involved. Unused medicines and some chemicals used in treatments are hazardous and must be removed by the healthcare professional.
If the waste is non-infectious and non-hazardous it can be double bagged, sealed and placed in your refuse bin. With the householder's permission, it is acceptable for the following types of waste to be disposed of via the refuse collection service:
- sanitary towels and incontinence pads
- dressings (no larger than 130mm x 220mm)
- stoma and catheter bags (unless the patient develops a gastrointestinal infection or a site becomes infected)
The following types of healthcare waste generated by healthcare professionals must never be placed in the domestic waste stream:
- disposable instruments
- wound vacuum drains
- maggots used for wound management
If the waste is infectious or hazardous, your healthcare professional will remove it and take it for appropriate disposal. Alternatively, they may make arrangements for a waste contractor to dispose of the waste from your home.
Lambeth does not collect infectious or hazardous waste generated in private households by healthcare professionals. If the waste is left at the household for collection it remains the responsibility of the healthcare professional until it is collected. It must be stored in a suitable location and must not be left on the pavement for collection.
Residential healthcare waste collections
To receive a free healthcare waste collection from your home your GP or healthcare professional will need to make a referral on your behalf. They will confirm that you are treating yourself at home and that the waste produced is infectious or hazardous. Our contractor will then contact you to arrange collection times and days.
To find out more about how we can help you please contact us on 020 7926 9000 or email email@example.com.
Commercial healthcare waste collections
We do not provide a commercial healthcare waste collection service. We only collect from private households and only with a referral from a GP or healthcare professional.
Businesses producing healthcare waste are required to provide a declaration stating whether the waste is hazardous. If so, they must also provide a hazardous waste consignment note under the provision of the Hazardous Waste (England) Regulations 2005. Hazardous waste producers are reminded that in most circumstances they will need to register their premises annually with the Environment Agency.
For information on companies that provide healthcare waste collections please visit www.letsrecycle.com.
On 4 April 2011 Lambeth implemented a Healthcare Waste Management policy as part of Lambeth's Waste Strategy.