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Waste Management

Not all hospital waste gets incinerated! Proper segregation is critical because each type of waste has a different end disposal (e.g. autoclave, incineration, landfill, recycling). Careful segregation of waste into the appropriate container is part of the waste management strategy guided by Provincial Regulations and VCH Policy — as such, it’s everyone’s responsibility.


Annais at the bedside of a patient who is recovering from a recent surgery.

What types of waste segregation do you think Anna will face?


The most important information I need to know.

Principles of Waste Management

Hazardous Waste Table

Non-Hazardous Waste Table

Hazardous Waste


Types of Hazardous Waste

There are many different types of hazardous waste with different risk levels. The most common types are biomedical, pharmaceutical, chemical, and radioactive.

Segregation of Hazardous Waste

Each hazardous waste type has different requirements in regards to liners, containers, sorting, and disposal. Understanding liners and containers is critical for safety and compliance to provincial regulations.

Non-Hazardous Waste


Types of Non-Hazardous Waste

Non-hazardous waste encompasses confidential items (e.g. patient wrist bands), garbage, recyclables, and compostables. This waste makes up about 90% of all waste generated in health care.

Segregation of Non-Hazardous Waste

Proper segregation of non-hazardous waste is not only important for environmental reasons — it can also reduce the amount of waste incorrectly placed in hazardous waste streams. Items containing personal patient information must be disposed of properly or they becomes a serious breach of privacy.

Items saturated with human/animal blood, body fluids contaminated with blood, or body fluids removed during surgery (e.g. saturated bloody gauze).
Items such as laboratory cultures, stocks or specimens, or micro-organisms. Live or attenuated vaccines, and human or animal cell cultures used in research.
Items capable of cutting or puncturing the skin, and that have come into contact with blood, body fluids, or microorganisms (e.g. syringe with needle).
Human/animal tissue, organs, and body parts.
Items used to administer cytotoxic agents or disposable products that were in contact with patients who received such agent (e.g. IV bags, rubber gloves).
Items capable of cutting or puncturing the skin that have come into contact with cytotoxic drugs (e.g. needle with syringe that contained cytotoxic drug).
Unused or partially-used drugs that are no longer required, or are expired, contaminated, or stored improperly.
Waste that is toxic, corrosive, flammable, reactive, or genotoxic (e.g. formaldehyde).
Waste containing, or contaminated with, radioactive isotopes (radionuclides).
Any paper item containing confidential information or regular office paper.
Mixed-media containing confidential information (e.g. memory sticks, CDs).
Items that are not biomedical or hazardous waste, and that are not recyclable (e.g. disposable coffee cups, medical gloves).
Hard containers made of plastic, tin, aluminum, glass, or Tetra-Pak that are not on the list of non-recyclable items.
Non-confidential paper products, newspaper, glossy paper, and boxboard.
All consumer reusable and disposable batteries.
All raw and cooked food leftovers. Food-soiled paper items that are biodegradable (e.g. paper plates and clamshells).
Empty and intact glass containers not containing blood or pharmaceuticals, not broken or extremely fragile, and not food and beverage glass.


Tips to help me take care and stay safe.

Segregate according to waste type

When hazardous waste is improperly placed in an incorrect container, it poses a health and safety risk to staff, patients, and the public —as well as to the environment.

Example: If a maintenance staff incorrectly uses a cytotoxic disposal container to mix cement and then places this container in the garbage. This action could result in landfill closure, a costly investigation, fines, all waste banned from the disposal facility, and negative implications on the environment.

Know your resources

The BC GreenCare website offers useful tips on proper waste disposal. Please visit the resource section for additional useful links on proper waste segregation and disposal.

Check with your manager

Speak with your manager if you find a type of waste disposal container missing or are still unsure of how to properly dispose of waste in your work environment.

Ask about in-person training

Want more info? Ask your manager about in-person training! To request an in-person unit training email


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