On 16th July 2005 new Hazardous Waste Regulations came into force in England, N.Ireland and Wales. The Regulations require organisations which produce any form of hazardous waste to register with the Environment Agency. Hazardous waste definitions include sharps, cytotoxic and cytostatic medicines and other clinical waste. However, organisations which produce less than 500kg of hazardous waste per year are exempt and are not required to register.
In Scotland, the Special Waste Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2004 have aligned the definition of ‘Special Waste’ with that of ‘Hazardous Waste’ so that the two terms now mean the same. Producers of ‘Special Waste’ in Scotland do not have to register with the Environment Agency, even if waste is exported to England or Wales.
Hazardous waste includes all clinical waste and other items which contains hazardous materials such as fluorescent tubes.
The practice should assess the amount of hazardous waste it produces each year. If this falls below 500kg then no action is necessary. If it is above 500kg, then the practice must register (it is an offence not to do so). Practices can register on the GOV.UK website. The cost to register on-line is £18.
As a guide, 500kg is roughly equivalent to 500 filled 4 litre sharps bins.
Subscribers to the members section of the FPM website can access a model Waste Management / Disposal Protocol in the practice administration index of the policies and procedures library. If you are not a member, have a look at the information about the benefits of membership and how to subscribe.