A healthcare facility generates many types of waste, such as non-anatomical waste, anatomical waste, cytotoxic waste, and sharps waste, that must be separate from other waste streams. As a waste generator, a healthcare organization is responsible for adequately sorting the waste it produces and preparing it for disposal. Everyone working in your organization must recognize the different waste types and throw them away in the appropriate containers. There can be safety, compliance, and financial consequences if you fall short in these areas.
Correctly segregating waste can be challenging due to varying rules and regulations and the rapid pace of healthcare delivery. There are Canada-wide guidelines for the management of specific waste types, such as the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines for the Management of Biomedical Waste in Canada. However, these must be adopted by provincial legislation or municipal by-laws to be enforceable. Local by-laws may be more stringent than the guidelines recommended by the CCME. In addition, some healthcare facilities may have disposal policies that are even more stringent than regulations. Sometimes, a healthcare worker must quickly decide where to put waste, and if they don’t fully understand the regulations, and their facility’s policies, they can make a mistake. The following are answers to some frequently asked questions that can help clarify how to segregate different waste streams appropriately.