Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ List

    Offensive Waste

  • We don’t segregate offensive waste at our site. Do we have to?

    Offensive healthcare waste is waste generated by healthcare activities that is not infectious and doesn’t contain medicines, chemicals or sharps, but may cause offence to anyone who comes into contact with it.

    Most producers of healthcare waste will generate some offensive waste so it’s likely that you do need to introduce this waste stream. It’s a legal requirement to segregate hazardous wastes (such as infectious waste) from non-hazardous wastes (such as offensive waste).

  • How should we store offensive waste and how is it disposed of?

    Offensive waste which is non-hazardous should be kept separate from other types of hazardous healthcare waste to ensure that segregation is maintained and mixing is prevented.

    Offensive waste can be sent directly to landfill disposal, but recycling and recovery options are starting to become available allowing producers to transfer this waste stream up the waste hierarchy.

  • Infectious Waste

  • What is and what is not infectious?

    Infectious waste is waste that contains viable micro-organisms or their toxins (known collectively as pathogens) which are known or reliably believed to cause disease in humans or other living organisms.

    Any waste that is known or reliably believed not to contain viable pathogens is not an infectious waste.

  • Who decides if it’s infectious?

    It’s the responsibility of the producer of the waste to correctly describe and classify their waste. For determining whether or not waste is infectious, this usually means the healthcare practitioner is responsible.

    In practice healthcare practitioners often receive support in doing this from infection prevention practitioners and waste management professionals, who will assist hospitals and other healthcare facilities in drawing up policies and procedures in accordance with best practice guidance.

  • Hazardous Waste Returns

  • Who should hazardous waste returns be sent to, to the producer or consignor of the waste?

    Hazardous waste producer returns are sent to the producer or holder of the waste, i.e. to the premises that the consignment of waste was collected from. This may differ from the consignor of the waste. For further advice please visit the government website here:

  • Pharmaceutical & Chemical Waste

  • Do pharmaceutical wastes need to be segregated, and into what containers?

    There are separate EWC codes for both non-hazardous and hazardous pharmaceutical wastes. Hazardous pharmaceutical wastes (known as cytotoxic and cytostatic) should be segregated and packaged in purple lidded containers. Non-hazardous pharmaceutical wastes

  • Do pharmaceutical waste containers need to be UN approved?

    Not normally. Most pharmaceutical wastes can be collected and transported under limited quantity rules. This means that there is an exemption allowing up to a certain quantity of waste to be transported without the need for UN approved packaging.

  • Anatomical Waste

  • How should anatomical waste be packaged and stored? And how frequently should it be collected?

    Anatomical waste should always be packaged in a rigid container with a red lid. It should never be packaged in bags.

    For most producers of anatomical waste the usual frequency of healthcare waste collection is sufficient. If it’s packaged correctly it’s unlikely to cause any probIems. However if the anatomical waste is going to be stored for a long period of time (over a week) it is recommended that the waste is stored refrigerated.

  • What should be classified as anatomical waste?

    Anatomical waste includes body parts or other recognisable anatomical items that may be offensive to those who come into contact with them. These include:

    • all human and animal tissue (including organs, bones, limbs, digits or parts thereof) with the exception of very small unidentifiable pieces of skin or flesh incidentally removed from treatment of wounds or during very minor surgery (for example mole removal, nail clippings etc);
    • retained or stored (including preserved) human tissue requiring disposal including recognisable items and all tissue samples (e.g. on blocks and slides)

  • Storage and Transport

  • What vehicles do you use for the transport of all infectious and non- infectious waste streams

    Stericycle uses bespoke designed vehicles to carry all healthcare wastes, either in wheeled carts or in primary packaging.  Infectious and non-infectious wastes are transported in the same vehicle, however for vehicles carrying waste in primary packages the load space is designed to enable segregation to be maintained.

  • Are your drivers fully trained?

    All Stericycle drivers are fully trained in the company’s waste collection procedures.

    All drivers engaged in the transport of dangerous goods hold the appropriate ADR qualification for the classes of dangerous goods in question. All drivers hold the appropriate driving license for the classes of vehicle they drive on behalf of the company.

    We operate a rigorous routine vetting procedure to ensure that drivers hold the appropriate qualifications and licenses prior to and during their employment with us.

  • Consignment Documentation

  • Why do we need a consignment note and why do you charge administration charges in addition to the Environment Agency charge?

    In England and Wales it’s a legal requirement (under the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 (as amended)) for every movement of hazardous waste to be accompanied by a hazardous waste consignment note. The Environment Agency (in England) and Natural Resources Wales (in Wales) are legally entitled to charge a fee for each movement of hazardous waste. The fees are used by them to pay for regulating hazardous waste management.


    Stericycle charges a small additional administration fee to pay for the administration costs of providing consignment notes on behalf of the waste producer.

  • How long to I have to keep my HWCNs for?

    Waste producers must keep the producer copy of each consignment note for three years from the date of the collection.

  • Waste Pre-acceptance

  • Who has the responsibility for undertaking pre-acceptance audits?

    The waste producer is responsible for providing a compliant waste pre-acceptance audit to the waste contractor. However the audit can be undertaken by the waste producer, the waste contractor or a waste management consultant.

  • Can any member of staff complete an audit?

    The person undertaking the audit must be ‘suitably trained and competent’. In practice this means that the person must have a good working knowledge of HTM 07-01 (segregation, colour coding, etc) and the pre-acceptance guidance in EPR 5.07 (the Environment Agency guidance for clinical waste facility operators) as a minimum.

  • Duty of Care and Regulator Inspections

  • How do I make sure I comply with the duty of care?

    • You must identify and describe your waste correctly – ensure the waste transfer note or consignment note correctly describes the waste and uses the relevant EWC codes.
    • You must keep your waste safely – use appropriate containerisation and storage, and correct packaging and labelling
    • You must transfer your waste to suitably qualified persons:
    o Via a registered waste carrier
    o To a suitably licensed/permitted disposal site
    • You must make reasonable checks to verify the above – Duty of Care audits
    • You must keep records (consignment/transfer note records, producer returns, service agreements/contracts)

  • How often should I visit your disposal / incineration / alternative treatment facilities?

    There is no specific legal requirement for producers to visit disposal facilities as part of duty of care checks, reasonable checks can consist of reviewing and retaining copies of relevant documentation.
    If you do wish to visit an Stericycle facility please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.