Environment Agency proposes new guidance on healthcare waste disposal

The government has proposed new guidance for waste firms dealing with the transfer and treatment of healthcare waste.

The draft guidance comes as a result of the Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) scandal. HES, is still under investigation by the EA and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) for allowing substantial amounts of toxic medical waste build up at some sites.

Currently, the appropriate measures and standards for firms dealing with healthcare waste are set out in guidance dating back to 2011.

The Environment Agency (EA) states the new guidance aims to deliver improvements of permitted facilities in the healthcare waste sector, and ensure that appropriate measures are applied consistently.

Under the proposed guidance, waste firms must have a contingency plan, ensuring they comply with their permit conditions and operating procedures during maintenance and closure at sites. Additionally, it states that firms must adhere to permitted storage limits, and they must stop accepting waste, unless a clear defined method of recovery or disposal is in place.