When people think about waste, the last thing that they probably think of is medical waste. Also known as clinical waste, medical waste are by-products of the medical profession that are not considered general waste; any medical office, from veterinary hospitals, clinics, hospitals, and doctor’s offices, produce medical waste. In the United Kingdom, there are a wide variety of laws and regulations that mediate how medical waste can be disposed of.

The Environmental Protection Act

The primary piece of legislation from which current trends and techniques in the disposal of medical waste originate from is the Environmental Protection Act of 1990. This law indicated that all facilities that produce medical waste have a Duty of Care to make sure that all clinical waste is disposed of properly.

In the medical profession, a Duty of Care is an enforced legal obligation stating that medical professionals must give a standard of reasonable care if they are performing actions that could harm others. Based on the language of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990, the disposal and handling of clinical and medical waste is now one of those actions that can potentially harm others.

The Safe Management of Healthcare Waste Memorandum

Also known as HYM 07-01, this decree from the Department of Health has offered support and help to medical offices and locations in the secure and safe disposal of medical waste.

Essentially, this memorandum has created an effective system of medical waste sorting, storage, and documentation. This has resulted in a wide variety of trash bins for the disposal of medical waste, which are also known as “hospital bins.” Having a wide variety of bins to be able to sort out various types of hazardous and infectious materials has been an extremely effective way for medical officials to keep track of their medical waste.

Hospital Bins by Colour

In most United Kingdom medical facilities, there are seven different types of hospital bins used in the disposal of medical and clinical waste. A colour-coded system is used in order to split up types of waste by what they are and how they must be disposed of. The yellow bin, for example, is for highly infectious waste; this type of medical waste must always be incinerated. Any infectious waste that may be able to be treated for safe handling and normal disposal is normally placed in the orange bin. If it is determined that waste in the orange bin cannot be disposed of or treated safely, it must be incinerated. The purple waste bin is used for all waste that is cytotoxic, or potentially harmful or dangerous to human cells. Waste from the purple bin also needs to be incinerated.

One type of bin up for debate is the yellow and black bin, which is known as the “offensive” bin; any “offensive” products or hygiene waste should be disposed of in this bin. However, “offensive” is a subjective term, so the contents of this bin largely vary by location. The contents of the yellow and black bin can be recycled if applicable, incinerated or landfilled.

The red bin is for highly dangerous anatomical waste, which must be disposed of by incineration, while the blue waste bin is for leftover medicinal waste that wasn’t used or used improperly.

The final bin is a normal black bin just like everyone else has; this is for domestic waste, and it is extremely important that this bin contains absolutely no medical waste.

The current bin sorting techniques used by hospitals, clinics, and other medical offices today provides a safe and organized route for the safe disposal of highly hazardous medical waste.

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