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Dental clinic waste regulations in the UK

Dental practices and clinics across the UK must adhere to strict guidelines for discarding any dental waste from their clinics. Due to equipment involved, tools and equipment contain various hazardous substances including mercury, amalgam and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

The UK governing body, the Department of Health have outlined their approach, best practices and guidance here –  safe management of healthcare waste.

Failure to comply with the hazardous waste guidelines and discarding of any hazardous waste illegally can lead to fines and in extreme circumstances imprisonment.

Putting waste into the correct bin is a process known as ‘waste classification’.

dental waste pots

Any other waste that can be recycled including paper and glass should be placed into the most appropriate commercial recycling bin.

By separating dental waste into one of the of the seven allocated waste bins, these help practices to accurately accumulate each waste type ready to be disposed of safely and lawfully. Additional benefits of separating dental clinics waste includes reducing the possibility of cross contamination.

Dental Waste Examples

What are the three most common items which are disposed of throughout dental practices across the country?

Amalgam Fillings

Fillings used to repair any cavities in your mouth are available in various materials including amalgam fillings.

Fact: Amalgam is known as one of the best materials to fill a tooth cavity as it is long lasting, less likely to break and less expensive to place.

Bodily Fluids

While operating on patients, dentists often come in close contact with different bodily fluids including saliva and blood. Both of these substances would be classified as hygiene waste or offensive waste.

In certain circumstances such as patients who have HIV or alternatively Hepatitis B, the blood must be disposed of under different dental clinic waste known as infectious clinical waste.

Consignment Notes

Hazardous Waste Consignment Notes and Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) are a fundamental aspect when looking at dental clinic waste regulations. Waste notes are documents that contain details about the waste being transferred from one party to another, in most cases these refer to the waste carrier and the waste facility.

Waste transfer consignment notes should always contain the following:

  • Quantity of the waste
  • EWC Code
  • SIC Code
  • Waste description
  • Description of the waste packaged
  • Place and date of transfer
  • Name and address of parties
  • License/registration numbers of the permit holders

Dental clinics should always request copies of the Waste Transfer Notes for each disposal. Maintaining and keeping a logged history and copy waste transfer notes will help you stay organised and be proof when your dental clinic ever is undergoing an audit.

Does your surgery also need needles disposing of? Check out our Sharps Exchange and Disposal service.