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Segregating Dental Waste

Clinical Waste Bins

January 25, 2023

Segregating Dental Waste

Within the dental healthcare sector there are strict compliancy requirements in regard to the proper management and disposal of dental waste.

What are the Types of Dental Waste?

Dental practices create a range of different types of waste, including clinical and amalgam waste, and sharps and hazardous waste, which comes under dental clinical waste. Each type of waste needs to be correctly managed, segregated, stored and disposed of.

As a practice handling these different type of waste streams you need to be aware of the necessary protocols regarding hazardous waste in dentistry. If waste is not correctly disposed of, this poses a risk to the environment and human health.

Common types of hazardous waste in a dental setting include:

  • Blood & Human tissue
  • Swabs & Dressings
  • Sharps – scalpels and needles
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • X-ray Fixer and Developer
  • Amalgam

Amalgam waste is also considered a type of hazardous waste. Due to the presence of mercury, this type of waste can be harmful to people if not correctly stored and disposed of. Amalgam waste requires an authorised waste management company to handle, collect and dispose of it.

Managing Dental Waste

As a dental practice you are legally obliged to follow the correct guidelines of managing your waste correctly and safely in order to protect your employees, the environment and public from potential harm.

Following dental waste disposal guidelines, all waste must be correctly segregated, labeled, packaged for transport and securely stored, with the correct documentation.

How to Segregate Dental Waste

Within the UK there is a colour-coded waste segregation system which identifies and segregates waste dependent on its classification and method of handling and disposal. This corresponds with different colour-coded bins

The colour coded dental waste receptacles are as follows:

Yellow - This colour signifies hazardous, infectious waste. For example, yellow sharps bins are for the storage and disposal of sharps materials such as needles, aspirated LA Cartridges can also go into yellow sharps containers. (local anaesthetic vials containing medicinal residue).

Orange - This colour signifies bagged soft clinical and potentially infectious waste, and is classed as hazardous. For example, contaminated swabs, dressings, paper towels and PPE such as gloves, aprons and masks. This includes anything that could pose a risk to the environment or public health.

White - White signifies amalgam dental waste. These waste bins will contain a form of mercury suppressant for amalgam-related products.

Blue - This colour signifies non-hazardous medicinal waste that doesn’t contain anything which would pose a risk. For example this would include blister packs, unopened medicine vials, anaesthetic cartridges and any waste pharmaceuticals or out-of-date or denatured drugs.

Why is Safe Dental Waste Management Important?

A proper and safe waste management system within your practice is vital and offers the following:

  • Benefit to the environment and reduction in carbon emissions
  • Provides the potential of cost savings due to more streamlined protocols
  • Safer working environment for employees
  • Prevents harm to people

Where can I find a Reliable Dental Waste Management Company?

You can ask any waste management company for their documentation to ensure they are fully compliant and authorised or simply use this online index:

WGS Waste Management is an approved and certified waste management company, working with businesses across the South East in Sussex, Kent, Surrey and London. Our reliable dental waste management is tailored to the needs of your practice. We provide all the necessary colour coded bins and waste receptacles, which conform with the government health and safety regulations.

Each type of waste utilises different methods of disposal. Where possible we always recycle, however hazardous and medical waste requires special treatments due to the risk of contamination. We never send any of our waste to landfill, it is only ever recycled or incinerated for energy.

To discuss dental waste management in more detail, please get in contact with us on or 01892 725609.

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