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How Clinical Waste Is Handled and Treated in the UK

How Clinical Waste Is Handled and Treated in the UK

Have you ever sat down and thought about what sort of waste comes out of hospitals? Well, not any normal sort you can find from a house. Waste from hospitals is typically split into four categories: sharp, medical, anatomical, and infectious, and each of these types of categories are to be treated with high standards. After all, these wastes can all end up being dangerous to both human health and the environment, so the proper disposal of such products is of utmost importance.

That said, if you're looking to learn more about how clinical waste is treated in the UK, keep on reading:

How Do Hospitals Treat Their Waste?

Hospitals treat their waste in a variety of ways. For instance, when dealing with sharp waste, they hold them in plastic containers rather than plastic bags to avoid damage. Anatomical waste, like organs, is still placed into containers as well. Meanwhile, redundant medicine is categorised into hazardous and non-hazardous, and both are stored away from each other as regulation stipulates.

Can Someone Actually Steal Clinical Waste?

While it's something hospitals and other health organisations do their best to prevent, it can happen. It wasn't uncommon for many individuals desperate for drugs to look through clinical waste containers for said drugs. Unfortunately, they become subject to other things like sharp waste, which can lead to injury and worse.

Who Is Responsible for Collecting the Waste?

Hospitals used to manage their own clinical waste by burning it in their own incinerators. Unfortunately, this method was ineffective and caused a lot of pollution. To address this issue, hospitals began handing the collection of this waste to private contractors back in the 1990s.

Upon collecting the waste, the private contractors can choose one of two processes: they can transport the waste directly to a facility that will make it safe, like heat-treating or incinerating it, or they can take it to a so-called transfer station. At this station, the waste is stored for a certain amount of time before being sent off to a destruction facility. There's a wide range of contractors in the industry, some handling the whole process and others just specialising in one or two stages.

What Happens If the Vehicle Carrying Clinical Waste Gets into an Accident?

While steps have been taken to reduce such risks, they can happen. Fortunately, many of the containers that hold such wastes have been tested rigorously to be able to withstand heavy impacts and such. This means that should the transportation vehicle get into an accident. Nothing should spill out.

Is It Dangerous to Touch Clinical Waste?

It's not always dangerous to touch clinical waste. Some waste might be harmless, while others can hurt but aren't necessarily lethal. Of course, there is still waste that can be dangerous.


Of course, there's a lot more to know about clinical waste, but this is just a general idea of how they're treated in the UK. If you're running a healthcare firm of any size or focus, it is vital that you set up a good process for dealing with your waste. You do not want to subject yourself to the consequences of mishandling clinical waste, whether because of legislation or because someone got hurt in the process! So, invest in good containers today and plan how to handle the various types of clinical waste you produce.

UKMEDI is your provider of medical supplies, offering fast, simple, and effective methods to get the disposable medical supplies that you need. If you are looking for biohazard disposal kits and the like, check out what we offer!

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