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Follow the colour code: Orange (clinical & infectious waste)

01 April 2016

Initial Medical is releasing a series of blogs to help people understand the purpose of the healthcare waste colour codes, and also how important segregation of healthcare waste is. Every month the company will be selecting one colour of the colour coding guide; this month will be orange which represents clinical & infectious waste.

Colour orange (clinical waste)

The colour orange may be associated with a number of things but within the healthcare industry it also represents clinical & infectious waste. This is waste which consists of waste arising from healthcare activities that could pose a risk to public health or the environment unless properly disposed of. 

Soft and hard waste

There are two types of waste for orange clinical waste; Soft waste which can include waste such as contaminated swabs, gloves, dressings, masks and catheters. Or there is hard waste, such as non-medicinal sharps, blood contaminated blades.

Sharps waste

The disposal of sharps waste is determined by the medicinal contamination. This contamination determines the colour of disposal bin required for the type of sharps waste that is being disposed of. Orange sharps can be hazardous or non-hazardous.


Segregation of waste is important for properly disposing of the vast amount of waste you may create. For clinical waste segregation to work effectively the Environment Agency for the healthcare sector recommends that colour coded bins, sacks and waste receptacles are provided to enable easy identification and are placed as close to the point of waste creation as possible.

 Treatment of clinical waste

There are many different methods of treating clinical waste. An important aspect of this is waste transportation, which ensures that clinical waste is safely packaged and transported to the relevant facility, by a vehicle meeting certain transportation regulations. One method of treating clinical waste is incineration, which is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of waste for recovering energy. During the process of incineration, the waste material that is treated is converted in to IBM, gases, particles and heat.

Example of clinical waste segregation

Clinical waste can be found in many different places, such as care homes, GP’s, dental practices, tattooists and cosmetic clinics. Tattooists will use orange coloured sharp bins for their needles and other sharp equipment, whereas care homes may use orange coloured rigid containers for their clinical waste. The type of bins and containers may vary for each individual dependant on their clinical waste.

It is important to know the different types of colour codes for your waste, if you would like to know more about clinical waste or the different types of waste within the colour coding guide, please visit www.initial.co.uk/healthcare-waste/