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Updates to the Safe Management and Disposal of Healthcare Waste

New guidance on the Safe Management and Disposal of Healthcare waste has been issued for practices in England.

The new guidance replaces the previous 2013 edition and is intended to better reflect the key principles in sustainable healthcare waste management, and specifically that of the circular economy, environmental protection, improved social outcomes, and reduced carbon emissions.

Since its publication, we have been in the process of seeking clarification on aspects within this new guidance that may impact how dental practices segregate and dispose of waste. The main changes are that waste should only be considered infectious if coming from a patient with known infection. Otherwise, waste from treatment such as PPE and swabs should be classed as offensive waste.

This means most waste from treatments in dental practices will go into yellow and black tiger striped bags, not orange bags as before. The default was always that waste from patient treatment should be considered as infectious unless there is evidence that it is not, which is why it used the orange waste stream previously.

Extracted teeth both whole and any that contain no amalgam can also go into the offensive waste stream. If there are any concerns that extracted teeth may puncture a waste bag, you can ensure that it is wrapped prior to disposal.

We are hopeful that this change will result in substantial savings on the overall costs of waste disposal for dental practices and a reduction of the environmental impact. In line with these changes, we have updated several of our audit, policy, and advice documents:

  • Healthcare waste audit
  • Healthcare waste disposal policy
  • Healthcare waste advice sheet
  • Infection control audit