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Best Practice Guidance for the Management of Hygiene Waste for Key Producers in Northern Ireland and Scotland

Best Practice Guidance for the
Management of Hygiene Waste for Key Producers in Northern Ireland and

UKW01 Final Report
December 2007


Background to research

This document has been designed to provide assistance to those managing
hygiene waste produced as a direct result of healthcare activities and
non-healthcare activities, including waste from Care Homes, Shopping
Centres, Service Stations and Public Toilets.

This document has been produced to assist waste producers, regulatory
agencies and the waste industry. This guidance should help producers
identify if they should segregate hygiene waste from other wastes
produced on site, and when and who should undertake risk assessments.
The importance of risk assessment in environments where both clinical
and hygiene waste are produced is emphasised.

Within this document hygiene waste is defined as: waste produced from
human or animal hygiene activities, and includes items used for
feminine hygiene purposes and for human and animal incontinence. This
guidance document advocates the use of the term ‘hygiene
waste’ as a replacement to previously used terms such as
‘Group E’ and ‘Sanpro’ waste.

Hygiene waste should not pose a risk of infection and should not
contain, or be contaminated with, medicinal products. Waste which poses
a risk of infection and/or contains, or is contaminated with, medicinal
products should be classified as clinical waste (as defined in the
Controlled Waste Regulations) and requires specialist treatment and
disposal as such. Guidance on the classification of the clinical waste
should be sought from the joint agency hazardous (special) waste
guidance titled: ‘Technical Guidance WM2 –
Hazardous Waste’.

Producers of hygiene waste from organisations that provide healthcare
services (such as the NHS and those in the private health sector)
should ensure that risk assessments, guidance and training are in place
to assist healthcare workers in segregating clinical and hygiene waste.
Risk assessment and segregation may be required by other organisations
such as Care Homes and Nurseries in certain circumstances, such as
diagnosis of a urinary tract infection, or infection of the
gastrointestinal tract.

There are financial and environmental incentives to the segregation of
hygiene waste from clinical waste. The cost of clinical waste disposal
is, in general, approximately four times that of hygiene waste
disposal. However, evidence from a small trials undertaken by NHS
Grampian have shown that the cost differential can be much greater,
with hygiene waste disposal costs being one tenth of clinical waste
disposal costs. Correct identification and segregation of

hygiene waste at the point of production allows the waste to be managed
in the most appropriate way at a local level. This may reduce the
distance waste is transported, reducing fuel consumption and minimising
the environmental impact (carbon footprint).

Irrespective of the amount or type of hygiene waste produced, or the
type of producer organisation, this guidance document advocates that
best practice is to seek advice and enter into dialogue with waste
contractors to find out the most appropriate way to manage hygiene
waste on a site by site basis. Unless otherwise specified by the waste
contractor (who may be the Local Authority), healthcare producers
should consider the use of colour coded hygiene waste containers and
separate collection for this waste stream.

This guidance advocates the use of the waste hierarchy principles when
choosing a treatment and disposal method for hygiene waste. Information
is provided about re-usable hygiene products and the forthcoming WRAP
real nappy laundering standard (PAS 106). It is acknowledged that at
present, waste management options for this waste stream are limited
with landfill being the predominant disposal route. It is suggested
that waste producers periodically review segregation, packaging,
treatment and disposal options for the hygiene waste stream. Practices
may change over time as new and emerging technologies enter the UK

It is anticipated that in the future additional guidance will be issued
by the Regulatory Agencies identifying how those who manage hygiene
waste should comply with the pre-treatment requirement specified in the
Landfill Regulations.

Objectives of research

The development of a strategic framework and best practice guidance for
the management of hygiene waste, aims to:

  • produce an improved understanding of the scale of hygiene
    arisings in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and
  • provide guidance (this document) to significant producers
    on improved methodologies for classifying and managing this waste

Key words:
hygiene waste, Scotland, Northern Ireland, healthcare, non-healthcare,
waste hierarchy.

Copies of this report are available from the Foundation, in electronic
format on CDRom at £20.00 + VAT or hard copy at
£25.00, less 20% to FWR members.

The report is available for download from the SNIFFER Website


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