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A Guide to Clinical Waste Bags

Our guide to clinical waste bags will help you understand what waste you should put in each bag and how to dispose of clinical waste safely. At Divert we can supply you with clinical waste bags to suit the needs of your business. We will also arrange a great value collection schedule that works for you.

What are clinical waste bags?

Clinical waste bags are made out of plastic or biodegradable material. The bags are different colours, to ensure clinical waste is separated correctly. It is very important that clinical waste is separated properly so that it can be disposed of or recycled correctly.

What are clinical waste bags used for?

Clinical waste bags are used to contain infected or contaminated waste. This waste could be damaging to people that come into contact with it or the environment.

They are colour-coded with guidance about what types of products can go in each colour of bag to ensure that clinical waste is separated correctly. This not only avoids cross-contamination but also enables the clinical waste to be correctly disposed of.

What type of waste should be put into a clinical waste bag?

Waste that has been infected or contaminated with medicines or chemicals or bodily fluids should go into a clinical waste bag. Examples include wipes, bandages, plasters and dressings.

Clinical waste that is considered sharp and could puncture skin should go in a sharps waste bin, and not a clinical waste bag. See our Guide to Sharps Bins for more information.

What colour are clinical waste bags?

There are three different colours of clinical waste bags – yellow, orange and yellow with black stripes, also referred to as tiger bags. See below for details of the type of waste that can be put into each bag.

Yellow bags are used for infectious waste, including waste that is contaminated with chemicals or pharmaceutical products. Examples include wipes, plasters, bandages, dressings, PPE, incontinence waste, empty IV bags, lines and tubes.

Clinical highly infectious waste bags

Orange bags are used for infectious waste that has not been contaminated with chemicals or pharmaceutical products. The types of waste are the same that would go in a yellow bag, e.g. wipes, bandages, and empty IV bags, as long as no active medicines have been added.

Clinical infectious waste bags

Yellow bags with black stripes are for offensive waste. Any waste that has been used for the treatment of someone without an infection would go in a yellow and black striped bag. Examples include soiled sanitary products or nappies from baby changing areas.

Clinical non infectious waste bags

What types of businesses use clinical waste bags?

A huge range of businesses need clinical waste bags and clinical waste disposal services, such as:
Tattoo and piercing shops
Dental practices
GP surgeries
Care homes and nursing homes
Beauty salons
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture or chiropody
Veterinary surgeries
Scientific research facilities

Where can I get clinical waste bags from?

You don’t need to buy clinical waste bags. At Divert we can provide you with clinical waste bags to use with our disposal service.

Get in touch with us for more information about your clinical waste disposal. We can arrange a low-cost collection schedule that works for you.

How do I use clinical waste bags correctly?

You must never overfill a clinical waste bag
Generally, they should be either two thirds full (or to the fill line) or weigh less than 8kg or there is a chance they could rip and spill the contents
Leaving the bag one-third empty allows for the safe sealing of the bag
Liquids should not be put into a waste bag
Sharp objects should not be put into a waste bag
Clinical waste bags should be securely sealed ideally using a plastic tie

How do I seal a clinical waste bag?

Clinical waste bags should be sealed using the ‘swan neck’ method. This involves firmly twisting the top section of the bag and then doubling over the twisted neck of the bag. Holding the twisted section of the bag firmly with one hand, a plastic seal should be passed over the section with the other hand. The seal should then be tightened manually to create an effective seal. If a plastic seal isn’t available, then the twisted neck of the bag should be tied in a secure knot.

How and where should clinical waste bags be stored?

Bags containing clinical waste must be sorted in a safe place where the public cannot access them. Hospitals and institutions such as care homes may have clinical waste wheelie bins which should remain locked when not in use.

Generally, all pharmaceutical, chemical and infectious waste should be stored securely within a designated area of a secure building if possible. This building should be covered and enclosed so that it provides sheltered cover for the waste. All clinical waste must be separated and stored according to type in order to prevent physical contact with the waste and to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

At Divert we can arrange a low-cost collection schedule to suit your needs, depending on the amount of clinical waste your business produces.

What regulations are in place for clinical waste?

In the UK the main regulations you need to understand are:
The Environmental Protection Act 1990
The Controlled Waste Regulations 2012
Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005
The Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulations
Statutory Duty of Care Regulations
List of Wastes Regulations 2005

You can find out more information about the laws and regulations about clinical waste here.

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