NHS trusts encouraged to work towards best practice in waste compliance
Large healthcare producers are set to benefit from new guidance on waste auditing issued today, which should bring carbon benefits as well as ensure tighter compliance with legislation.
The document has been prepared by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) healthcare waste special interest group, and is designed to provide simple guidance on pre-acceptance waste audits, as required by the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations.
All healthcare producers must undertake pre-acceptance waste audits to ensure that clinical waste is sent for the correct treatment and disposal routes.
Good auditing will also bring other benefits, including potentially significant cost savings and carbon footprint reductions that can be realised by efficient and appropriate segregation of higher and lower risk healthcare waste streams.
The Royal College of Nursing has estimated that there is the potential for annual savings of approximately £5.5m for the NHS if just 20% of incorrectly classified infectious waste were to be reclassified as offensive waste with lower associated waste management costs.
The guidance has had input from a range of healthcare waste experts including practitioners, academics, and consultants and has been endorsed by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The trust's environmental services manager Victoria Sawford said she thought it would be a useful tool, especially for those who are new to the waste management sector.
"It not only highlights the legal requirements, but provides a step-by-step approach to the audit methodology, as well as enabling the user to make an informed decision with regards to the packaging, collection, storage, transportation and disposal routes," she said.