Healthcare and clinical waste

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Advice for households

Healthcare waste to put in normal rubbish bin

For additional COVID-19 healthcare waste advice, we recommend that householders refer to the Gov.UK website.

Healthcare waste that is not hazardous or infectious can be put in your normal rubbish bin. This includes:

  • dressings and bandages;
  • incontinence pads;
  • sanitary products;
  • stoma bags;
  • catheter waste (after contents has been disposed of in a toilet);
  • 'peg' or stomach feeding equipment; and
  • home dialysis waste (empty saline and/or glucose IV bags and tubing)

In addition if you're self isolating at home or tested positive with COVID-19

To dispose of any face coverings or PPE you or members of your household use, you should:

  • double bag them
  • store them for 72 hours before putting them in a 'black bag' waste bin

Do not put them in a recycling bin.

Remove PPE carefully, and avoid touching the inside of your face covering.

After you remove your PPE or face covering, wash your hands or use hand sanitiser.

You may wish to double bag the waste before disposal. If you require an additional rubbish bin due to increased amount of rubbish you are now disposing, contact your local borough or district council.

If you have an infectious illness or are undergoing treatment with cytotoxic or cytostatic drugs, such as chemotherapy, then the items listed above may be hazardous and need to be collected separately as clinical waste. Contact your local borough or district council to arrange a arrange a clinical waste or sharps collection.

Hazardous clinical waste to be collected separately

Healthcare waste which is infectious or hazardous is classed as 'clinical waste' and must be collected separately for safe disposal. Your doctor or nurse will advise if your waste should be collected separately and provide you with a coloured sack to put it in, this will usually be an orange sack.

Clinical waste includes:

  • Swabs and wound dressings/bandages that are contaminated with infectious or hazardous substances;
  • wound vacuum drains or pumps.

To request a separate weekly collection for the safe disposal of your clinical waste please contact your local borough or district council to arrange a clinical waste or sharps collection.

How to dispose of sharps?

Sharps including needles and syringes should never be put in normal rubbish bin, even if they haven't been used. They should always be placed in a sharps box, which we will collect and dispose of safely.

Contact your local borough or district council to arrange a clinical waste or sharps collection.

How to dispose of medicines?

  • Take your unwanted and out of date medicines to your local pharmacy. Do not put them in your normal rubbish bin.
  • Empty non contaminated packaging and containers for medicines can be put in your recycling bin. This could include clean plastic or glass bottles, cardboard boxes and paper instructions.
  • Blister packets should be put in your rubbish bin.

Arrange a clinical waste and/or sharps collection

Advice for businesses

It is illegal to dispose of business waste through facilities provided for householders, including household kerbside collection bins, street bins, recycling banks or recycling centres.


The management of clinical waste is subject to stringent and rigorous regulation because of the potential to infect or harm people or animals. See the Department of Health's guide, Safe Management of Healthcare Waste.


You will need to use a company that provides specialist healthcare waste disposal, if your organisation is responsible for disposing of anything classified as:

  • Medical waste treatment
  • medical waste disposal
  • medical management
  • clinical waste
  • hospital waste
  • pharmaceutical waste
  • medical waste transportation or incineration.

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