COVID-19 waste management standard operating procedure

All healthcare settings should ensure that: 

• All outer packaging must be removed and recycled before an item is taken onto any ward or clinical area. If this is taken into isolation or higher risk area, then it is likely to become contaminated and therefore must be disposed of as infectious clinical waste. 

• All confidential waste must be put into confidential bins. 

• All sharps and anatomical waste must be put into the relevant receptacle with an appropriately coloured lid as per HTM07-01, and these do not need to be put into an orange bag ( 

• In summary, infectious clinical waste should be treated like any other infectious clinical waste – that is, as it would be for TB, hepatitis, etc, following national regulations. Healthcare waste is suitable for non-incineration technologies. 

Hospitals in addition should ensure that: 

• All food waste must be disposed of in black bags/compostable bags. 

Soiled linen must be put into alginate bags and then into relevant outer bags (usually white according to local policy)

• Non-ambulatory patients – urine and faeces to be put down the sluice/toilet. Where no sluice/toilet is available, excreta may be gelled and disposed of in an orange bag. If bed-bound, urine from catheter taken to sluice/toilet. The use of these granules must be strictly controlled as described in this NHS National Patient Safety Alert; Ambulatory patients can go to the toilet as normal were safe and feasible to do so. 

• Where medicines are prepared in a clean area, pharmaceutical waste must be separated into the following receptacles: – Blue – non-hazardous healthcare medicines for incineration 

– Purple – waste contaminated with cytotoxic and cytostatic medicines for incineration. 

• Waste should be bagged in the appropriate colour bag. Where clinical waste carts are used, the bagged waste must be put into carts awaiting collection and disposal. Please ensure that all bins are full before releasing them from site. 

• Disposal of all waste related to possible or confirmed cases should be classified as an infectious clinical waste suitable for alternative treatment and transported as category B, unless the waste has other properties that require it to be incinerated. 

• No domestic waste is to be sent directly to landfill from acute hospital settings. 

• Confidential waste generated on all wards (including isolation wards) must be disposed of via the existing confidential waste route. Confidential waste bins from areas with positive COVID-19 patients should be left for 72 hours before their contents is shredded 

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