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yellow clinical waste bag.

Clinical waste bags come in various colours and each one is designed to safely store different types of medical waste. It’s vital you use the right coloured bag to avoid contamination and health risks. Use our guide to clinical waste bags to 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. Get a free quote for clinical waste bag collection from your organisation today – call 0333 444 0118 or contact us online.

A Guide to
Clinical Waste Bags

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What are clinical waste bags?  

Clinical waste bags are sacks used to store hazardous and non-hazardous types of medical refuse. They’re made from plastic or a biodegradable material. Clinical waste sacks come in different colours to ensure clinical waste is separated correctly. This ensures it can be disposed of or recycled correctly.

There may be different sizes of clinical waste bags available to suit the volume of such rubbish produced. Some clinical waste sacks will include labels as well as their different colours so it’s clear what waste they can store.

What are clinical waste bags used for?  

Clinical waste bags are used to contain infected or contaminated waste. This waste could damage the health of people that come into contact with it or the environment. All healthcare facilities use clinical waste sacks to store everything from used PPE to wipes, bandages, and nappies.

They’re colour-coded with guidance about what waste items can go in each coloured bag to ensure that clinical waste is separated correctly. This avoids cross-contamination so the waste is disposed of or recycled responsibly and reduces the risk of exposure that could spread infection.

What 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. Any clinical waste considered sharp that could puncture skin should go in a sharps waste bin – not a clinical waste bag.

Read our guide to sharps bins
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What colour are clinical waste bags?  

There are three colours of clinical waste bags – yellow, orange, and yellow with black stripes (also referred to as tiger bags). Each coloured clinical waste sack is designed to store different waste types. These are the colours of waste bags and examples of waste types you can put in each one:

  • Yellow clinical waste bags are used for infectious waste, including waste that’s contaminated with chemicals or pharmaceutical products. Examples include wipes, plasters, bandages, dressings, PPE, incontinence waste, empty IV bags, lines, and tubes.
  • Orange clinical waste 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 – wipes, bandages, and empty IV bags – as long as no active medicines have been added.
  • Yellow clinical waste bags with black stripes are for offensive waste. Any waste that has been used for the treatment of someone without an infection could go in a yellow and black striped bag. Examples include soiled sanitary products or nappies from baby changing areas.
yellow clinical waste bag.
orange clinical waste bags
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What types of businesses use clinical waste bags?  

A huge range of businesses need clinical waste bags and sacks to store medical refuse safely before it’s collected and disposed of properly. This includes all sorts of healthcare facilities and cosmetic companies, such as:

  • Tattoo and piercing shops
  • Dental practices
  • GP surgeries
  • Hospitals
  • Care homes and nursing homes
  • Beauty salons
  • Alternative therapies such as acupuncture or chiropody
  • Hospices
  • Veterinary surgeries
  • Laboratories
  • Scientific research facilities

How and where should clinical waste bags be stored?  

Bags containing clinical waste must be kept in a safe place where the public cannot access them. Hospitals and institutions like care homes may have clinical waste wheelie bins to store numerous medical waste sacks, which should remain locked when not in use.

All pharmaceutical, chemical, and infectious waste should be stored securely within a designated area of a secure building. This building should be covered and enclosed to provide shelter for the waste. All clinical waste must be separated and stored according to type 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.

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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
Learn about clinical waste regulations

Where can I get clinical waste bags?

You don’t need to buy clinical waste bags. At Divert we can provide you with free clinical waste bags to use with our disposal service. There are no rental, purchase, or delivery fees – you only pay for collection. Costs depend on the type and number of clinical waste sacks you use, how often you want them collected, and your location.

Contact us for more information and a free no-obligation quote for clinical waste disposal. We can arrange a low-cost collection schedule that works for you.

How do I use clinical waste bags correctly?

To use clinical waste bags correctly:

  • Never overfill a clinical waste bag
  • They should be either two thirds full (or to the fill line) or weigh less than 8kg – otherwise there’s a chance the bag could rip and spill the contents
  • Leave the bag one-third empty to allow for the safe sealing of the bag
  • Do not put liquids into a clinical waste sack
  • Do not put sharp objects into a clinical waste bag -use the correct sharps bin
  • Securely seal every clinical waste bag, 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.

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