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Waste in the NHS

There are many important economic, environmental and legislative reasons for reducing waste and making use of materials that might otherwise go to landfill.

The NHS as waste producers have a legal duty to dispose of its waste properly in accordance with the duty of care requirements imposed under various UK Acts and Regulations.

The various types of waste covered include:

  • Clinical Waste - risk assessments consider the options of disposable materials or issues arising from decontaminations procedures.
  • Construction Waste – One third of waste produced in the UK originates from the construction industry where there is often scope to re-use materials or select those with high recycled content or scope for future recycling.
  • Food Waste – can be reduced by identifying charity recipients of surpluses and reviewing alternative food waste treatment options.
  • ICT Waste – can be reduced through charity schemes which re-use equipment

The general principles for managing waste are set out in the “Waste Hierarchy”:

  • Eliminate – Avoid using resources and producing waste in the first place;
  • Reduce – Minimise the amount of resources used and waste you produce
  • Reuse – Use items as many times as possible to save resources;
  • Recycle – Recycle what you can only after you have re-used it
  • Dispose - Dispose of what’s left in a responsible way;

There are often special considerations for health, including disposal of clinical waste and medicines, and construction waste for new build and refurbishment projects.