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Anybody who works in a health care environment such as a hospital, dental office, veterinary practice or any kind of laboratory, knows that the waste produced should be handled in a specific way. Waste types from these environments have strict disposal guidelines and laws for handling and categorisation.

What Are The Different Types Of Medical Waste?

Typically there are four main types of medical waste that are all handled slightly differently. These medical waste types are:

  1. General Medical Waste
  2. Infectious Medical Waste
  3. Hazardous Medical Waste
  4. Radioactive Medical Waste

Below is a summarised table containing the storage container types and colour typical colour classification codes for these type of medical waste.

Infectious Medical WasteYellow – marked infectious or with biohazard symbol (marked “sharps” if it contains sharps)Leakproof plastic bag or puncture-proof containers
Radioactive Medical WasteColour varies in different countries but is always marked with radioactive symbolSealed lead container
Hazardous Medical WasteYellow or red depending on country.Puncture-proof container
General MedicalBlackPlastic bag inside of a container or on its own

The four main categories often break off into smaller categories which also have their own colour segregation systems for storage and disposal

Hazardous Waste Colour Bags

Cytostatic & Cytotoxic Waste


Cytostatic drugs are those which prevent the growth of cells eg. “Botox” (Botulinum toxin type A). Cytotoxic waste refers to any medicine that has a toxic influence on the body’s cells, like chemotherapy treatment which kills off cancer cells. Both of these types of waste should be segregated into purple puncture-proof containers or yellow containers with a purple lid. This also includes:

  • Blister packs
  • Injectable cosmetic treatments eg. ‘Botox’
  • Unopened medicine vials
  • Tablets in containers
  • Patches
  • Gloves, gowns or aprons that have been contaminated with cytotoxic medicines.

The most effective method of disposing of cytostatic & cytotoxic waste is by INCINERATION.

Anatomical Waste


Anatomical waste is a sub-type of pathological waste. The difference is that anatomical waste is recognisably human. Examples of anatomical waste would be:

  • Body parts
  • Blood bags
  • Human organs
  • Blood preserves

Anatomical waste is generally stored in sealed red waste containers or leak-proof red bags and should be destroyed by INCINERATION.

Clinical Waste

Clinical waste falls into the infectious waste category which is segregated into yellow plastic bags or sealed containers. The bag or container will usually be labelled INFECTIOUS. Examples of infectious clinical waste are:

clinical waste
  • Wipes
  • Dressings
  • Gloves
  • Aprons
  • Bandages
  • Disposable garments contaminated with body fluids

This waste type requires INCINERATION for complete disposal.

Radioactive Waste

For radioactive waste, there is no universal colour as it varies depending on the location. However, all radioactive waste containers are sealed, lead containers with the radioactive symbol on the front. Types of radioactive waste are:

radioactive sign
  • Radioactive agents such as iodine used to treat thyroid glands
  • Any medical equipment used to give treatment that may have come into contact with certain isotopes
  • Clothing worn when providing radiation treatment
  • Radiation source

Chemical and Pharmaceutical Waste

Chemical and pharmaceutical waste is anything that contains drugs that need to be disposed of. This can include things such as:

Inciner8 pharma waste
  • Out of-date medicine and prescriptions
  • Discontinued, unused preparations
  • Intravenous preparations
  • Partially used vials, syringes and intravenous drips (IVs)

Pharmaceutical waste should be stored In a brown bag or brown rigid container.

The recommended method for disposal of pharmaceuticals is INCINERATION to ensure complete combustion of any chemicals.

Non-hazardous waste colour bags

Medicinal Waste

Medicinal waste types are considered non-hazardous waste that requires disposal by INCINERATION.

Inciner8 Inhaler Waste

Examples of this waste are:

  • Tablets in containers
  • Unopened medicine vials
  • Droplet bottles with pipettes
  • Blister packs
  • Inhaler cartridges

The colour categorisation for this waste type is typically a blue container but, in some countries, it may be a yellow container with a blue lid.

Offensive Waste

Inciner8 Nappy waste

Offensive waste can vary dramatically around the world. What is seen as offensive waste in one country, may be completely different in another. Some examples of what could be considered offensive waste are:

  • Nappies and wet wipes / diaper waste
  • Incontinence pads
  • Sanitary pads/napkins
  • Hospital gowns not contaminated with blood or body fluids
  • Syringes un-used without the needle
  • Colostomy bags

Offensive waste is safe for INCINERATION and should be disposed of in a yellow bag with black striped markings.

Why Should You Follow The Medical Waste Classification System?

Medical waste segregation is vital to ensure that all types of medical waste is sorted, transported, treated and disposed of correctly. The classification of waste at the point of generation makes sure that the waste is managed safely and does not pose a risk of infection or disease to anyone coming into contact with the waste bags.

By following the waste classification process, companies and organisations will find it easier to manage their waste management costs and keep their healthcare facility clean and free from contamination. It also allows medical waste disposal to be a quick and easy process. Click here for more information on medical waste and the classification system.

We offer a large range of medical incinerators with burn rates from 20kg/hr to 1,000kg/hr. By providing us with a few details about your waste stream, our specialist advisors can recommend which model is most suitable for your needs and provide a budget price instantly.

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