Types of Waste & Packaging

There are a number of different waste products associated with General Dental Practice. It is important to ensure that they are separated and disposed of correctly.

Sharps Bins: Defined as Hazardous Waste

Yellow lidded sharps bins contaminated with medicines but not contaminated with cytoxic/cytostatic wastes.

  • Orange Lidded sharps bins are not advised.
  • DO NOT place in General Waste containers.
  • DO NOT decant residual medicines in order to change disposal method of sharps.

Soft Clinical Waste: Defined as Hazardous Waste

Soft Clinical Waste disposed of in Orange bags (for example blood contaminated dressings, PPE, swabs).

Any other waste that may present a risk of infection, including saliva-contaminated items from known infectious patients or where medical history is not available (The latter being on very rare occasions).

Amalgam contaminated, chemically contaminated or medicinally contaminated waste should NOT be disposed of in an orange bag.

Medicine Containers: Defined as Non-Hazardous

Used for out of date drugs, not common in dental practices.

Offensive or Hygiene Waste: Defined as Non-Hazardous

Tiger Bags used for offensive or hygiene wastes.

  • Soft wastes from Dentistry which are not contaminated with fluids for example PPE, un contaminated tissues and Swabs only where saliva with no infection risk is present.
  • Hygiene waste from toilets and nappies.

Amalgam Waste:  Defined as Hazardous

DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) guidelines state Amalgam separators must be in place to capture all amalgam waste from drainage systems.

  • Amalgam must be captured in order for spittoon waste to enter drainage systems.
  • Amalgam waste may be decanted from amalgam separator by practice staff into designated containers OR by chosen waste management company.
  • Containers provided by Waste Management company (must container mercury suppressant).

Extracted Teeth:

Treat teeth as non-anatomical infectious waste as the disposal of teeth is unlikely to cause offence. 

  • It may be possible to dispose of teeth in Yellow Sharps containers, check with the waste contractor for clarification.
  • Teeth containing amalgam should be segregated and disposed of in accordance with amalgam waste as above.

Can Patients Have their Extracted Teeth?

Yes. Under certain conditions dental practices have a duty of care to ensure that items returned to patients are clean and/or disinfected as appropriate.

  • Practices should give patients advise on how to discard the items at a later date and ensure teeth containing Amalgam are not disposed of in Domestic Waste (Best practice is to return to Dental Practice).

Dental Plaster Made From Gypsum

In many cases study models are not infectious, however gypsum is a controlled at landfill waste. Best practice is to segregate at the source into an additional container, check with the waste contractor for clarification.

  • There is likely to be a small number of study models which are contaminated and pose a risk of infection. These are to be disposed of as hazardous clinical waste and should be put in the orange bag.

Domestic Waste:

Waste produced in the practice such as hand towels, tea bags, waste paper are known as General Waste and should be collected by a commercial waste contractor.

  • Most contractors offer recycling solutions to capture common recyclables such as waste paper and cardboard

Confidential Waste

Waste deemed as confidential should be handled by a separate confidential waste company who will shred material on or off site. The paper will then be recycled