Waste Regulations for Dental Clinics

Dentists across the country adhere to strict guidelines for discarding any dental waste from their clinics. Due to the apparatus and equipment involved within dentistry, tools and equipment contain various hazardous substances including mercury, amalgam and various other potentially dangerous chemicals.

The UK governing body, the Department of Health have also outlined their approach, best practices and guidance upon safe management of healthcare waste.

Not complying with the hazardous waste guidelines and discarding of any hazardous waste illegally can lead to various different penalties including fines and in extreme circumstances imprisonment.

Assorting waste into the correct category to be disposed of is a process known as waste classification. In order to simply this process certain schemes have been introduced to save on both time and costs.

Colour Coding Dental Waste

Colour coding dental wastage is one technique adopted by numerous dental clinics across the United Kingdom. The colour scheme for segmenting each type of waste is known as follows:

Colour CodeWaste Type
YellowSharps/Infectious Waste
OrangeInfectious Waste
Yellow/Black (Stripe)Offensive waste
RedAnatomical waste
BlueMedicinal Waste
PurpleCytotoxic waste
WhiteAmalgam waste

Any other waste that can be recycled including paper and glass should be placed into the most appropriate commercial recycling bin. All remaining waste that do not fall under any of the previously stated categories is known as ‘trade waste’ and should be safely put away in black plastic waste bags.

By separating dental waste into one of the of the seven allocated waste bins, these help practices to accurately accumulate each waste type ready to be disposed of safely and lawfully. Additional benefits of separating dental clinics waste includes reducing the possibility of cross contamination.

Dental Clinic Waste Examples

Lets take a look at three of the most common items which are disposed of throughout dental practices across the country.

Amalgam Fillings

Fillings used to repair any cavities in your mouth are available in various materials including amalgam fillings. Any wastage from an amalgam filling should assorted into the white medicinal waste bin.

Fact: Amalgam is known as one of the best materials to fill a tooth cavity as it is long lasting, less likely to break and less expensive to place.

Credit: Isopharm

Bodily Fluids

While operating on patients, dentists often come in close contact with different bodily fluids including saliva and blood. Both of these substances would be classified as hygiene waste or offensive waste, usually disposed of in nearby kick bins.

In certain circumstances such as patients who have HIV or alternatively Hepatitis B, the blood must be disposed of under different dental clinic waste known as infectious clinical waste.

nitrile gloves ready for disposal

Nitrile gloves

Figure: A pair of nitrile gloves ready to be disposed of

In any hospital or clinic, nitrile gloves being worn by staff are a must when treating a patient. The material used to create these gloves, also known as nitrile butadiene rubber, has a stronger resistance against various chemicals including oils and acids.

Depending on which situation these gloves will determine which medical waste bin should be used. If these gloves worn were used in conjunction with amalgam, for example a filling procedure, the gloves would need to be disposed of inside the white (amalgam) waste bin.

Consignment Notes

Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) and Hazardous Waste Consignment Notes are another fundamental aspect when looking at dental clinic waste regulations. Waste notes are documents that contain details about the waste being transferred from one party to another, in most cases these refer to the waste carrier and the waste facility.

Waste transfer consignment notes should always contain the following:

  • Quantity of the waste
  • EWC Code
  • SIC Code
  • Waste description
  • Description of the waste packaged
  • Place and date of transfer
  • Name and address of parties
  • License/registration numbers of the permit holders

Dental clinics should always request copies of the Waste Transfer Notes for each disposal. Maintaining and keeping a logged history and copy waste transfer notes will help yourself stay organised and be proof when your dental clinic ever is undergoing an audit.

Choosing a Waste Disposal Provider

Choosing a company to handle the disposal of dental waste can be a daunting task due to them needing to meet several criteria. The first port of call when reviewing waste disposal companies is to verify their legitimacy. In circumstances where there are various dental practices spread across the country, a cost saving exercise would be to choose a dental waste disposal provider that covers all locations you operate in.

Ideal Response logo

Ideal Response uphold a five star reputation and are certified upper-tier hazardous waste license carriers operating across the United Kingdom. Whether you require a one-off or continuous waste collection service, our team are on hand to help.

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