Something that most clinics have in common is healthcare waste, also called hospital waste. These wastes are divided into categories and represent a source of risks to human health and the environment, hence the need to properly dispose of them.

To better assist in this task, we created this article to guide you in how you should perform this task in the best possible way. As mentioned above, these wastes are divided into categories, and each of them needs to be disposed of differently.

In Brazil, the clinic must draw up a Health Services Waste Management Plan, as the proper health waste management is not only done by giving the correct destination to the waste, going much further.

The Waste management plan is regulated by Brazilian resolutions CONAMA nº 283/01, CONAMA nº 358/05, and ANVISA RDC 306/04. In summary, the technical document e is based on the principles of non-generation and minimization, also aiming at the treatment and final disposal of items that need different handling. The Plan aims to protect the workers involved and preserve the environment and public health.

It is important to emphasize that all establishments that provide services related to health (whether human or animal) must make this plan according to the regulations, and the lack of such a document may result in a fine, as it may be demanded and inspected by health agencies.

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Separating waste into categories

Hospital waste is classified, each with characteristics that differ from the others, in addition to having, in some cases, subcategories. Check each one of them:

Group A - In this category there are residues with the presence of biological agents, such as blood, secretions, laboratory residues from clinical analysis, and even some sharp objects. It is noteworthy that group A solid waste cannot be recycled. Group A is also subdivided into A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5.

Group B - This category includes chemical waste, that is, it contains chemical substances that pose a risk not only to public health but also to the environment. Subdivided into B1, B2, and B3, these residues range from chemotherapy items to expired banned and/or contaminated drugs.

Group C - This category includes items from groups A, B, and D, however, contaminated with radionuclides, from clinical analysis laboratories, nuclear medicine, and radiotherapy services, as well as any waste that should not be reused.

Group D - We can classify in this category any type of waste that does not present a chemical, biological or radioactive risk, such as toilet paper and diapers, sanitary napkins, disposable garments, food leftovers given to patients, etc.

Group E - This includes sharp or scarifying materials, that is, items capable of cutting or piercing. Objects such as blades, needles, and broken glassware in the laboratory are classified as Group E.

Performing the disposal

When disposing of these residues, it is important to use different colored garbage bags than regular garbage. In Group A, the milky white bag coated with a red bag is normally used. Another important point is to use a trash can made of resistant material, preventing waste from spreading outside.

Chemical waste (Group B), according to the Brazilian ABNT standard, NBR 7,500 - Risk and Handling Symbols for the Transport and Storage of Materials must be identified with white background labels, black design, and an outline, containing the universal symbol of a toxic substance. The inscription “Chemical Risk” is suggested.

Sharp objects contaminated with chemical residues must be packed in a rigid container, filled with up to two-thirds of their volume. The container should be placed in a milky white plastic bag, with the inscription “Sharps” and the universal symbol of a toxic substance, as suggested above.

For Group C, due to its hazardous characteristics, radioactive waste should be handled and stored by trained personnel. Radioactive waste must be collected in special shielded containers.

These, according to the standard of Brazilian ABNT 7,500 - Risk and Handling Symbols for the Transport and Storage of Materials must contain labels where there will be an inscription on a white background, drawing, and black outlines, with the universal symbol of radioactive substance and the inscription “Radioactive Reject”. All indications, including the date of decay, must be written in large letters and visible from a distance.

Group D waste, considered common, does not require as special treatment as the others, however, it is recommended to separate them into recyclable and non-recyclable. In this case, the recyclables must be disposed of in colored bins (red for plastic, blue for paper, yellow for metal, and green for glass), while the rest can be disposed of in gray bins with "Common waste" labels.

And finally, we have Group E. Waste from this group must be stored in rigid containers, resistant to punctures or leaks, in addition to having a lid. Such containers must also carry the identification with the international symbol of biological risk, needing to have their disposal as soon as they reach two-thirds of their capacity.

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