Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Offensive waste

Offensive and hygiene waste from healthcare premises


Offensive waste is non-infectious waste, which is unpleasant and may cause offence to those coming into contact with it. It includes:

  • outer dressings and protective clothing, eg masks, gowns and gloves that are not contaminated with body fluids
  • hygiene waste and sanitary protection, eg nappies and incontinence pads
  • autoclaved laboratory waste.

Offensive waste does not include any of the following:

  • sharps
  • anatomical waste, eg body parts, organs or blood
  • chemicals medicines
  • dental amalgam
  • any waste that is infectious (ie a clinical waste).

If any of the above are present in the waste, it is not classed as offensive waste.

You must make sure that your business does not cause a nuisance to your neighbours or local community. Anyone affected by a nuisance can take legal action against you or your business or complain to your local council.

Noise and nuisance

Disposing of offensive waste

Offensive waste is classified as non-hazardous waste.

You must complete waste transfer notes for any waste that leaves your site. You must keep copies of all waste transfer notes for two years.

You must ensure that your waste is stored, handled, recycled or disposed of safely and legally. You must comply with your waste responsibilities, known as your duty of care.

Duty of Care: Your waste responsibilities

You can dispose of offensive waste by incineration or non-hazardous landfill.


Waste incineration

Most clinical waste treatment sites are not authorised to dispose of offensive waste as it is not infectious. You must make sure that the site receiving your waste is authorised to deal with your particular type of waste.

Containers for offensive waste

This waste should be placed in a 'tiger bag'. A tiger bag is a yellow bag with one or more broad black stripes.

You must not place offensive waste in a clinical waste container or a black refuse sack.

Classifying and describing offensive waste

If you have segregated your waste according to this guidance, you will need to classify the waste in the waste transfer note as follows:

Use the European waste catalogue code 18 01 04

Example description: Offensive waste - human healthcare waste that has been determined by assessment to present no risk of infection.

Further information

Waste Thesaurus: SEPA guidance for coding waste An alphabetical list of waste types with their corresponding EWC codes.

GOV.UK: Safe management of healthcare waste (UK-wide)

Read more Managing Waste Materials topics on NetRegs

SEE ALSO: Pharmaceutical wasteHealthcare sector guidance

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