Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Segregation of healthcare or medical waste

Segregation of healthcare or medical waste


What is Healthcare Waste

Healthcare Wastes arise from human and animal healthcare, i.e. from hospitals, GP surgeries, dental surgeries, veterinary surgeries etc. and have identified EWC codes.

Segregating your waste into suitable colour-coded containers is good waste management and will also help you to comply with your legal requirements.

By segregating your waste properly, you could save money on waste disposal.


What you must do

In Northern Ireland you must segregate your hazardous waste from non-hazardous waste and store it separately on your site. You must not mix different categories of hazardous waste.

Hazardous/special waste is waste that may be harmful to human health or the environment.


Good practice

You should segregate your waste at source to make sure you handle, transport and dispose of it safely and effectively.

Segregation should be based on the type of waste and the most appropriate treatment and disposal.

Waste carriers and waste management facilities (including disposal facilities) may request evidence of waste segregation. This will normally be in the form of waste audit reports.


Waste segregation system

A national colour-coded healthcare waste segregation system has been published by the Department of Health. This system is considered best practice and should ensure, at a minimum, that you comply with the current regulations.

The segregation system identifies and segregates waste on the basis of:

  • waste classification
  • suitability of treatment and disposal options.

Use this system to help you identify and segregate your waste.

Department of Health: Safe management of healthcare waste (UK-wide)

You must ensure that the waste facility you send your waste to holds the appropriate authorisation, permit or licence for the type of waste that you send to be treated or disposed of.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Waste management licences

For segregation systems to be effective, you must provide staff with:

  • background information and reasons for segregation
  • appropriate equipment, such as sufficient colour coded waste receptacles
  • clear instruction and training.

You need to provide clear information, instruction and training on categorising waste to everyone working in areas where healthcare waste arises. For example, you could display posters showing the different waste streams and types of waste at appropriate locations.


Further information

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

More Storage handling and transport of waste topics

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