A healthcare facility generates many different types of waste, some of which are biohazardous and need to be separated from other waste streams for treatment prior to end disposal. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that out of the total amount of waste generated by healthcare activities, about 85% is general, non-hazardous waste, and the remaining 15% is considered hazardous material that may be infectious, toxic, or radioactive.
As a waste generator, a healthcare organization is responsible for adequately sorting the waste it produces and preparing it for disposal. There can be safety, compliance, and financial consequences if done incorrectly. 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. It is crucial to understand the regulations that waste providers should follow to manage waste correctly.
The Relevance of Waste Acceptance Policies
Waste Acceptance Policies (WAPs) are a waste vendor’s requirements outlining what it will and will not accept, and under what conditions. These policies are often tied to considerations such as:
- Permit conditions
- Business decisions
- Operational capabilities
A Waste Acceptance Policy, which is often included with and incorporated into the service contract, may be stricter than applicable regulations. Healthcare facilities need to ensure that WAPs from all of their waste vendors are shared with those within the organization that are responsible for waste management. Stericycle’s WAPs are available online for ease of reference.
Wastes Acceptable Under Stericycle’s Policies
Biomedical Waste (ref.: applicable Provincial Regulations and guidelines; and CSA standard Z317.10-21 – Handling of health care waste materials)
- Human anatomical
- body parts or organs
- Animal anatomical
- carcasses, body parts or organs
- biological tissue, cell culture, microbial culture, or material in contact with such tissue or culture
- live vaccine
- a blood container or material that has been saturated with blood
- Non-Anatomical – Sharps
- a sharp or breakable object having been in contact with blood or with a biological liquid or tissue
- Cytotoxic Medical Waste
- Biomedical waste as described above, but that has also been in contact with cytotoxic agents, including empty or used vials of cytotoxic medications, and any other material contaminated by residual cytotoxic agents.
- Pharmaceutical Waste
- Therapeutic medications and chemicals that are no longer usable, that are outdated or contaminated, that have been improperly stored or that are no longer required.
- Narcotic medications and precursor chemicals (undenatured) and unused cytotoxic medications are not accepted in this category. They are managed separately.
Items that are not accepted by Stericycle include:
- Solvents (formaldehyde, etc.)
- Narcotics (undenatured)
- Radioactive materials
- Hazardous waste (e.g., aerosols)
Waste Management Plan
The types and volumes of the waste streams you generate, and how they are regulated, may change over time. It is crucial to be as well-prepared as possible to address such situations. A Waste Management Plan outlines how a business will identify, segregate, store, and otherwise manage its wastes. The benefits of such a plan include:
- Personnel safety
- Regulatory compliance
- Protection of the environment
- Compliance with disposal vendor Waste Acceptance Policies
Learn more about Stericycle's Waste Acceptance Policy to help to the ensure proper identification, classification, segregation, packaging, and labelling of applicable waste streams.