November 27, 2020

How is Healthcare Risk Waste disposed

Healthcare Risk waste can be placed in the following categories:

  • Biological (recognisable anatomical waste)

  • Infectious

  • Chemical, toxic or pharmaceutical including cytotoxins

  • Sharps

  • Radioactive (refer to Radioactive Waste Directive(s) 

After collection, waste is taken to a treatment and disposal facility to be rendered safe.

The treatment and disposal facility is then required to:

  • Reduce the number of infectious organisms present in the waste to a level that protects the public and employees against infection.

  • Destroy anatomical waste so that it’s no longer recognisable.

  • Make all clinical waste (including any equipment and sharps) unusable and unrecognisable as clinical waste.

  • Destroy the component chemicals or chemical, medicinal and medically contaminated waste.

  • Use one of the following treatment options: Energy from Waste (incineration) or Alternative Treatment (see below).

No single treatment option is suitable for all waste streams because of very different risks and regulations. Whilst we recycle whenever possible, medical waste requires special treatment because of the high potential for pathogens, chemicals and other contaminants harmful to people and the environment.

Treatment Options

With a number of fully licensed specialist waste facilities in Ireland, we offer different treatment options:

Alternative treatment (AT)

AT is the heating of waste to disinfect it and is used as an alternative to incineration. Once cool, the shredded disinfected waste is compacted, baled and used as an alternative fuel source/solid recovered fuel (SRF).

Export for Incineration   

Cytotoxic, Pharmaceutical, Bulk Metal, Non Autoclaved Laboratory and Anatomical requires incineration abroad. This accounts for approximately 6% of healthcare risk waste treated by Stericycle in Ireland.

Bio Systems - Reusable sharps service 

Stericycle’s Bio Systems containers are reusable UN-approved puncture-resistant containers that can be used up to 600 times after washing and disinfection, as opposed to single-use containers that are disposed after just one use.

You can learn more about our processes here

Or download flowcharts on each waste treatment process in our Resource Centre.