Healthcare waste

Healthcare wastes are defined as any wastes that result during a healthcare procedure. Some of these wastes (known as clinical/infectious waste) may be hazardous to those that come into contact with them and are subject to strict controls.

Collections of Healthcare Waste and Medical Sharps in the Community

Doncaster Council does not provide separate collections of clinical waste or medical sharps boxes.

If you need to arrange disposal of these items please contact your healthcare practitioner in the first instance. Please see the categories under 'Management of Healthcare Waste' below for advice and guidance on disposal.

Responsibility for Healthcare Waste in the Community

Community Healthcare practitioners as ‘Producers’ of Healthcare Waste, directly and indirectly, are required to ensure waste is segregated, described, classified and disposed of appropriately.

Healthcare practitioners working in the community must assess the waste they are producing for hazardous properties, most notably, “infectious” waste. To accurately assess if the waste generated is infectious, a clinical assessment should be performed. This should be based on the professional assessment, clinical signs and symptoms, and any prior knowledge of the patient.

Management of Healthcare Waste in the Community

Clinical Waste

Healthcare Waste is classified as 'Clinical Waste' when a clinical assessment identifies that the item of waste:

  • poses a risk of infection
  • poses a chemical hazard
  • contains medicines with a pharmaceutical-active agent

Examples of Clinical Waste include:

  • human or animal tissue
  • blood or other bodily fluids
  • excretions
  • drugs and/or other pharmaceutical products
  • swabs and/or dressings
  • Syringes, needles or other sharp instruments
  • any Healthcare Waste which may prove hazardous or may cause infection to a person coming into contact with it.
Clinical Waste should never be disposed of with general Household / Commercial Waste or recycling. It requires separate collection 

If the waste presents a hazard or risk of infection, it should be classified and described appropriately and will need to be separated and packaged for appropriate treatment and disposal. This will be in an Orange or Yellow bag/bin to be determined following a clinical assessment. The healthcare practitioner is responsible for the correct classification, removal or arranging to remove, and disposal of this waste.

If you are a patient and you are unsure if waste produced by treatment or self-care is Clinical Waste, which requires a separate Clinical Waste collection service, please ask your healthcare practitioner.

If you run a business and you are unsure if waste produced on your premise is Clinical Waste, which requires a separate Clinical Waste collection service, please ask your Commercial Waste Contractor.

Self-medicating patients and the disposal of medical sharps

Medical sharps are items of healthcare waste that could cause cuts or puncture wounds, including:

  • needles and the needle part of a syringe
  • scalpels and other blades
  • broken glass ampoules 
  • the patient end of an infusion set

Self-medicating patients who are required to use injectables at home (eg diabetics) will be prescribed with a sharps receptacle relevant to the medication being administered at the time of diagnosis. The healthcare practitioner responsible for your prescription will train you how to use the receptacle safely and advise you about local disposal options.

Once a sharps receptacle is filled to the “fill line” it should be sealed and taken back to the healthcare practitioner responsible for your prescription or a local pharmacy.  Some GP’s and Pharmacies do not have the capacity to manage returned sharps boxes, in such cases your healthcare practitioner can make arrangements for collections (a referral) via Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (Doncaster CCG).

The Council and Doncaster CCG have jointly commissioned a sharps box collection / delivery service for self-medicating patients in Doncaster. This service is provided by a private contractor Sharpsmart.

Patients that do not have arrangements in-place through their GP or Pharmacy are advised to contact Doncaster CCG directly to set up a collection.

  • Doncaster CCG:  01302 566005

Existing patients that need to change a collection or no longer require a Sharps Waste collection service can contact Sharpsmart Customer Service for assistance using the contact details below:

  • By phone:        01388 348 007
  • By email:
  • By post:           Unit 1, Enterprise City, Meadowfield Avenue, Spennymoor, DL16 6JF

Offensive Waste

Healthcare Waste is classified as ‘Offensive Waste’ when a clinical assessment identifies the item of waste:

- does not pose a risk of infection 
- does not pose a chemical hazard 
- does not contains medicines with a pharmaceutically-active agent but may be unpleasant to others who come into contact with it 

Examples of Offensive Waste include non-infectious:

• minor first aid and self-care waste such as plasters 
• nappies and incontinence pads 
• stoma and /or catheter bags;
• sanitary products and used condoms 
• animal faeces and/ or soiled animal bedding 

Offensive Waste can also be produced without any direct or indirect association with a healthcare practitioner (someone legally recognised to treat patients), eg waste produced from first aid or hygiene using over the counter products. Soiled nappies, incontinence pads and sanitary towels are not ‘Healthcare Waste’ under normal circumstances and can be disposed of in your black bin.

Offensive Healthcare Waste produced in healthcare facilities requires a separate collection service. However, limited exemptions are in place for the placement of certain Offensive Wastes produced as a result of Community Healthcare in the black bin. The healthcare practitioner may therefore dispose of Offensive Healthcare Waste in a patients black bin, or advise a patient to do so, provided the relevant exemptions are followed and it is legal to do.

Offensive Waste produced in commercial environments, but resulting from first aid or hygiene using over the counter products, such as soiled nappies, incontinence pads and sanitary towels are not ‘Healthcare Waste’ under normal circumstances and can be disposed of with your general Commercial Waste bin. However, if a business produces more than 7Kg per collection cycle, it requires separate collection, please consult your waste contractor for advice.

The council may, following an application by a resident or healthcare practitioner, agree to provide additional storage capacity to residents / patients who produce Offensive Healthcare Waste, or Offensive Household Waste. There is no charge for this service but we can only provide an additional 120 litre capacity for this purpose. We will exchange your 240 litre bin for a larger 360 litre bin. We will not provide a separate bin for Offensive Waste.

It is the healthcare workers responsibility to ensure the disposal of Offensive Healthcare Waste in the councils black bin is lawful.

Non-Infectious dressings

General household waste ordinarily contains plasters, dressings and incontinence products. Where the healthcare worker produces the same or similar items these can be double-bagged and placed in the black bin, with the householder’s permission ,provided the amount produced is relatively small (less than 7Kg per collection cycle is a useful indicator)

Stoma/catheter bags

If the householder is self-medicating with no healthcare worker involved, they are able to dispose of their own waste in the black bin. Stoma and /or catheter bags should be emptied into a toilet before being wrapped or bagged and placed in the black bin.

If a healthcare worker is involved in the care of a stoma patient, the waste from a stoma patient can be disposed of in the black bin, unless, following a ‘Clinical Assessment’, the classification changes eg Infectious.

Incontinence pads

Incontinence pads are only classed as Clinical Waste if the patient / resident producing them is suffering from an infectious disease. Non-infectious incontinence pads are normally classified as Offensive Waste and should be wrapped thoroughly before being put in your black bin. Infectious incontinence pads (Clinical Waste), as determined by clinical assessment, must be stored and collected separately from other waste. The healthcare practitioner should make suitable arrangements for its collection and disposal, not the resident.

Unwanted medicines

Unwanted medicines should be taken to your local pharmacist for secure destruction. GP’s also have a general duty of care to ensure the appropriate disposal of waste medicines that are returned by patients but it is preferable they are returned to a pharmacist directly.


What do I do if I find a discarded needle?

DO NOT attempt to pick up or remove a discarded needle yourself.

We will arrange to collect discarded needles safely and securely. If you see any of these lying around then please report this as soon as possible to us using the following e-form:  

Needle exchange

For information on needle exchange services which provide sterile injecting equipment to people who inject illicit drugs or non-prescribed drugs please see approved sites.

Last updated: 06 April 2021 12:14:00