waste segregation colour coding guide

Colour Coding Guide

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Colour Coding Guide

The correct onsite segregation of healthcare and infectious waste for disposal is vital to ensure compliance with government regulations. Initial Medical follow The Department of Health’s HTM 07-01 Safe Management of Healthcare Waste Memorandum. This outlines the best practice waste segregation colour coding scheme for producers of hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

Our helpful waste management guide shows the various colour codes for each waste type, whether the waste is hazardous or non-hazardous and the relevant European Waste Catalogue (EWC) codes to describe the waste. Get in touch to find out how our service can help you ensure you are compliant.

We provide a free set of colour coding posters, to make this information digestible and accessible in your business. This will ensure your business is fully aware of their waste management types and how best to maintain waste for disposal. There is a choice of two different styles; either a standard colour coded poster or a fun character style, making it even easier for staff to remember how different types of waste are classified.

Download Colour Coding Guide posters

Fill in this quick form below and select the type of posters you wish to receive. You will receive an email with your posters shortly.

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Why is the classification of waste important?

Incorrectly managed hazardous waste can pose risks to staff and patients, as well as failing to comply with waste disposal legislation. Giving staff the knowledge and providing the correct waste bin or waste container will significantly reduce the chances of contaminating waste streams.

  • A guide for all practices - The Colour Coding Guide is designed for all healthcare practices to follow, from large NHS hospitals to independent dentists. The guidance follows the Department of Health's HTM 07-01 Safe Management of Healthcare Memorandum. If you need further information on detailed waste legislation.

  • Expert guidance - At Initial Medical, our specialist waste disposal service provides you with expert guidance from our trusted technicians and consultants, helping you to stay compliant. Our waste segregation posters are an additional resource to keep your business informed.

  • Financial and environmental benefits to following the guide - Proper waste segregation is required to remain compliant with government legislation, but can also benefit your practice in other ways.

    Waste streams that require special treatment are more expensive than other waste streams. Limiting the types of waste disposed of into more costly waste streams to only what is necessary is an easy way to reduce the costs of your waste management. The potential savings rise, the larger the healthcare setting you serve.

    Incorrectly segregated hazardous waste is not only a risk to those coming into contact with your waste containers, but the outside environment once your healthcare waste has been disposed of. Any waste going to landfill must be non-hazardous in order to protect the surrounding environment.

  • EWC codes explained - European Waste Catalogue (EWC) codes represent a standardised framework in which waste types are recognised. EWC codes will be found on waste transfer notes and special waste consignment notes as well as other waste-related documents and clinical waste products.

    EWC codes form a part of your legal responsibility to effectively describe the waste generated on your premises to ensure the safety of those handling its disposal.

The different waste types

Clinical Highly Infectious

The yellow clinical highly infectious waste stream is hazardous and is for category A pathogens and medicinally contaminated waste. This waste stream requires incineration.

EWC Codes: Human; 18 01 03 and 18 01 09 | Animal; 18 02 02.

Clinical highly infectious waste examples: Disposable PPE and garments contaminated with infectious bodily fluids, as well as sharps contaminated by medicinal products and bodily fluids.

Related products: Clinical waste bins and sharps bins.

Clinical Infectious

The orange clinical infectious waste stream is for hazardous and non-hazardous waste from patients with known or suspected infectious diseases. Medicines and anatomical waste must not be disposed of in this stream.

EWC Codes: Human; 18 01 01 and 18 01 03 | Animal; 18 02 01 and 18 02 02.

Clinical infectious waste examples: Disposable PPE used when in contact with a known or suspected infectious patient.

Related products: Clinical waste bins, clinical waste bags and sharps bins.

Offensive (Tiger)

The black and yellow offensive waste stream, also known as the tiger stripe, is for non-hazardous, non-infectious waste that cannot be placed into the mixed municipal waste stream. This waste stream can be recycled, incinerated or deep landfilled.

EWC Codes: 18 01 04 and 20 01 99.

Offensive waste examples: Colostomy bags, nappies, incontinence pads, disposable PPE that does not come into contact with infectious body fluids.

Related products: Tiger bag service.


The blue medicinal waste stream is for non-hazardous medicines and denatured drugs that require disposal and pose no risk of containing cytotoxic or cytostatic properties. This waste stream requires disposal by incineration.

EWC Codes: Human; 18 01 09 | Animal; 18 02 02.

Medicinal waste examples: Tablets in containers, blister packs, liquids in bottles, inhaler cartridges and droplet bottles.

Related products: Pharmaceutical bins and sharps bins.

Cytotoxic and Cytostatic

The purple waste stream is for hazardous waste contaminated by chemotherapy-related drugs and some medicines which contain cytotoxic or cytostatic properties.

EWC Codes: Human; 18 01 03 and 18 01 08 | Animal; 18 02 02 and 18 02 07.

Cytotoxic and cytostatic waste examples: Needles and syringes used after chemotherapy is administered; partially used or empty medicine containers found in pharmacies.

Related products: Pharmaceutical bins and sharps bins.


The red anatomical waste stream is for all body parts that require disposal and is most commonly associated with surgical procedures. This waste stream contains hazardous and non-hazardous waste. This waste stream is incinerated.

EWC Codes: Human; 18 01 02 and 18 01 03 | Animal; 18 02 02 and 18 02 03.

Anatomical waste examples: Body parts; organs; blood bags and blood preserves.

Related products: Clinical waste bins and sharps bins.

Dental (Amalgam and Gypsum)

Hazardous amalgam waste must be stored safely to prevent exposure to toxic mercury vapours.  Non-hazardous gypsum waste is either treated or disposed into a separate landfill cell.

EWC Codes: Amalgam; 18 01 10 | Gypsum; 18 01 04.

Dental waste examples: Amalgam is found in tooth fillings and capsules containing residues; Gypsum is in dental study moulds.

Related products: Dental waste containers, gypsum containers and amalgam separators.

Mixed Municipal

The mixed municipal waste stream is black in our Colour Coding Guide but may differ, dependent on the bin colour your local council supplies. Various waste types are disposed of through this waste stream, which is disposed of into landfill.

EWC Codes: Various

Municipal waste examples: Packaging, tissues, sandwich wrappers, flowers.

Lateral Flow

The clear lateral flow waste stream is a recent inclusion as a result of large-scale Coronavirus testing using lateral flow devices. Used lateral flow tests are categorised as chemical waste and therefore must be incinerated.

EWC Codes: 18 01 07 and 18 01 04.

Related products: Lateral flow device waste disposal.