Healthcare waste producers encouraged to respond to storage and treatment consultation

  09 March 2022
Hospitals, dentists, care homes, veterinary practices, pharmacies, needle exchange facilities and other producers of healthcare waste are being encouraged to respond to a consultation on its storage and treatment from Scotland’s environmental regulator.
  • Scotland’s environmental regulator is asking producers of healthcare waste to respond to its consultation on the storage and treatment of their waste.
  • The consultation is linked to new SEPA guidance that sets out duty of care responsibilities and explains that all healthcare waste producers will have to complete pre-acceptance audit checks in the future or their contractor will not be able to accept waste.
  • The requirement will ensure that all healthcare waste is correctly classified and segregated so it can be treated effectively and efficiently
  • It is important that producers provide feedback on the new approach so SEPA can understand what further support and guidance may be required during implementation.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency's (SEPA) consultation opened on Friday 4 March and will run for eight weeks until 29 April 2022.

Most of the changes are relevant to operators of installations and facilities concerned with the treatment, storage and disposal of waste. However, to ensure that waste is correctly classified and segregated, healthcare waste producers will need to complete pre-acceptance audits

This will help ensure that the right waste goes to the right place for suitable storage and treatment and is then disposed of appropriately.   

Producers of healthcare waste

All producers of waste have a duty of care, which means taking all reasonable steps to ensure that waste is managed correctly throughout its complete journey from point of production to disposal or recovery.

At present only a limited number of waste operators regulated by SEPA have pre-acceptance requirements in their environmental authorisations. Applying these requirements, including pre-acceptance audits, to all operators will improve consistency, work towards a level playing field and drive-up standards for waste segregation at source.

This means that hospitals, dentists, care homes, veterinary practices, pharmacies, needle exchange facilities and other producers of healthcare waste will have to make sure they rigorously segregate their wastes before they are collected – if this is not done the waste operator will not be able to accept it. Both parties will have to check and confirm through an audit that they are doing this on an ongoing basis. Details of the kinds of wastes included, and how they should be separated, are described in the guidance.

Your views are important

Shona McConnell, SEPA Senior Manager, Compliance and Beyond, said:

“Sustainable healthcare waste management is vital to protect communities, workers and our environment.

“Ensuring that healthcare waste is properly segregated so it is treated effectively and efficiently is the responsibility of every producer. Pre-acceptance audits are a fundamental part of ensuring that waste goes to the right place for suitable storage and the right place for treatment.

“Going forward Scotland is taking the same approach as other parts of the UK – if you don’t have a pre-acceptance audit in place, the authorised storage and treatment facility will not be able to accept your waste. Some healthcare waste producers are already doing this, but for others it will be a new requirement. I encourage you to respond to our consultation by 29 April, as you know what these changes will mean for you and your organisation, and we want to support you in this.

“If you have any questions about what this means for you as a producer of healthcare waste please contact SEPA through nationalwaste@sepa.org.uk.”

New guidance

SEPA’s consolidated guidance, ‘Storage and treatment of healthcare waste: Appropriate measures and supporting guidance’ brings healthcare waste guidance in Scotland together into one place.

It is designed to support operators to understand and meet their compliance obligations, go beyond compliance standards, and ensure waste is managed in way that minimises pollution of the environment or harm to human health. Additionally, as many operators work across the UK, there is a need to align with the rest of the UK where appropriate to do so.   

Ends

Notes to editor