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Follow the colour code: Blue (medicinal waste)

01 June 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 we will be selecting one colour of the colour coding guide; this month’s colour of the month will be Blue, which represents medicinal & pharmaceutical waste.

Blue medicinal waste is non-hazardous and contains waste such as waste medicines, out of date medicines, and denatured drugs, all which requires disposal by incineration.

Waste examples: 

  • Tablets in containers
  • Blister packs
  • Unopened medicine vials
  • Liquids in bottles
  • Inhaler cartridges
  • Droplet bottles with pipettes

Who is affected?

Blue medicinal waste can be found in many different practices but is most commonly found in GP practices, hospitals, care homes and pharmacists. As there is a risk of liquids or medicines to leak, it is vital that all blue medicinal waste is disposed correctly in to securely fastened blue coloured rigid bins, where any spillages will be safely contained.

Controlled Drugs & Segregation

Some prescription medicines are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Legislation (and subsequent amendments). These medicines are called controlled medicines or controlled drugs. 

To ensure safety and follow the correct compliance, any controlled drug must be denatured using a specially designed controlled drug denaturing kit and the entire waste container should be placed into a blue pharmaceutical container for onwards disposal. 

It is also important to remember that when disposing of medicinal waste, that all medicines should be kept in their original packaging when placed into a waste container, as it prevents any of the substances from reacting with each other. In addition medicinal waste must be segregated according to its state, therefore separating liquid and hard waste into different containers.

Waste Containers

To optimise efficiency, thought should be given to the size and type of containers used. For example Initial Medical offers a full range of containers, from smaller to large rigid containers suitable for different volumes of blue waste. For cost effectives and more environmentally friendly solution, rigid cardboard containers are also available, but these are not suitable for liquid or glass waste.

Advice on managing your medical waste

It is important that all medicines are safely disposed of, particularly controlled drugs which are at risk of being diverted or misused. Inappropriate disposal may also have a negative impact on the environment and public safety.

We can offer you the correct products and practical guidance on the destruction of controlled drugs together with advice on safe methods of destruction and disposal to comply with environmental protection legislation.

Follow the colour code

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 view our website.