Sanitary Waste Frequently Asked Questions
Sanitary Bin Waste – Why do I need a Service?
Having a Sanitary waste facility in place is part of your “Duty of Care” to your female employees, visitors, patients etc. Providing a means of disposing of sanitary towels, tampons and liners is a basic requirement under the ‘Duty of Care’ Act 1990 section 34.
As an employer you may be breaking the law if you don’t provide a facility for the disposal and collection of sanitary waste. 96% of companies/organisations use of a Sanitary Bin provided by a licenced waste contractor supported by a waste transfer note following every collection, waste transfer notes should be retained on file for 3 years they confirm as a waste producer you have a facility in place to manage and treat your sanitary waste responsibly, alternatively you can employ an in-house solution by providing a pedal bin with treated liner to contain any malodour and or potential infections, however you must ensure this waste is handled and disposed of correctly.
The ‘Duty of Care’ Act 1990 section 34 is underpinned/endorsed by the Water Industries Act 1991, which states that” Sanitary Waste should not be flushed down toilets where they could cause a blockage within the sewer or drain”. It should also be noted there is no such thing as a soluble sanitary towel or tampon. Flushing them away can and does result in blocked drains resulting in added costs for your business.
Sanitary Bin Waste Service – is this a Legal Requirement?
In the UK Sanitary waste disposal is governed by legislation, its primary purpose is to ensure sanitary waste is disposed of in a safe and hygienic manner, the legislation is governed by:
•The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulation 1992 – Recommends that all businesses should ensure all female toilets are provided with an appropriate unit/bin for disposing of sanitary waste.
• The Water Industries Act 1991 – States no sanitary waste should be flushed away that may cause harm to the sewer system or drains.
• The Environmental Protection Act 1990 – Imposes a Duty of Care on businesses/organisations who produce, keep or dispose of controlled waste including sanitary waste.
What is Duty of Care?
Duty of Care is a legal requirement for those dealing with certain kinds of waste to take all reasonable steps to keep it safe and is set out in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA). It applies to anyone who is a holder of household, industrial and commercial waste, known as controlled waste.
As a business, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of your business waste without harming the environment. This is called your duty of care.
The duty of care has no time limit. You are specifically responsible for your waste from when you produce it until you have transferred it to an authorised person, however your duty does not end when you hand over the waste to the next holder. It extends along the entire chain of management of your waste. If you think that your waste is not being managed correctly, you must take action to check and prevent this.
• Segregate, store and transport your waste appropriately and securely, making sure that you do not cause any pollution or harm to human health.
• Check that your waste is transported and handled by people or businesses that are authorised to do so.
• Complete waste transfer notes, including a full, accurate description of the waste, to document all waste you transfer, and keep them as a record for at least two years.
If a waste carrier takes your waste away, you need to check that they are authorised to accept it.
The purpose of the Code of Practice is to give simple, clear and practical guidance on what those who import, produce, carry, keep, treat or dispose of controlled waste have to do to fulfil their legal duty of care obligations.
Is Duty of Care the same as a Waste Transfer Note?
This is an understandable misconception, possibly due to many licenced waste carriers charging for Duty of Care Documentation as a separate document to Waste Transfer Notes.
• Duty of Care sets out your responsibilities under the code of practice as the producer of waste. The code is clear about your responsibilities as the waste producer in terms of how you store, keep, and dispose of waste.
• Waste Transfer Note is a legal requirement and certifies that as the producer of waste you are complying with your legal obligations.
What is a Waste Transfer Note?
As a producer of waste offensive/sanitary /incontinence or other waste types you have a legal obligation to certify that the waste your produce, store, transport and dispose of, is done so compliantly, without harming the environment. This is also referred to as ‘your duty of care. you should ensure waste collected and transported from your premises is removed by a licenced service provider, who in turn should provide you with A waste transfer note (WTN) this is a document that details the transfer of waste from your premises to the waste carrier who in turn will transport your waste to a licenced facility to be incinerated. You must ensure every consignment of waste you pass to others is covered by a WTN.
WTNs ensure that there is a clear audit trail from when the waste is produced until it is disposed of. You must keep copies of all your WTNs for at least two years and must be able to produce them on demand to your environmental regulator or local council, or you could be fined.
You must check that anyone you pass your waste to holds the relevant registration, permit or exemption for the type of waste you pass to them. For more information, refer to.gov page managing your waste
Do I need a Waste Transfer Note for Sanitary Waste?
While there is no statutory duty to have this waste collected separately from the rest of normal office waste, the nature of sanitary waste means that frequent collections are often required to reduce the risk of overflowing Sanitary Bins or mal-odour issues.
Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 employers have a duty to ensure that toilet areas are kept clean and that waste does not accumulate. Like many waste specialists Principal Hygiene offer a range of sanitary waste and washroom services that includes Air fresheners, Soap & Hand Dryer Services and Sanitisers, complete with flexible collections and all duty of care documentation.
Sanitary waste is classified in the Department of Health’s official guidance Safe Management of Healthcare Waste (which can be found here) as “offensive waste”. If the waste derives from healthy people and is unlikely to be infected with transmissible diseases, it does not fall within the “infectious” category and is not hazardous waste. Offensive waste can be landfilled along with ordinary household and commercial waste.
As with all types of waste, employers have a duty of care under s.34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to ensure that waste is not illegally disposed of. Employers must also ensure that it does not cause any damage to the environment or harm to human health.
How Often Should I Receive a Waste Transfer Note?
We issue a combined Waste Transfer Note/Proof of Service and Consignment document each and every time we collect waste from your premises. We do this to ensure if anything changes your WRN is as up to date as your last service.
When you sign the WTN it also acts as your proof of service, as soon as you sign for service our auto system sends you an email with your WTN attachment stating name of service driver, time, date, vehicle registration, and what was serviced.
Many licenced carriers use season tickets this is a single WTN that can cover multiple transfers over a period of up to 12 months. You can agree to use a season ticket if all of the following stay the same:
• The waste producer and the waste carrier do not change during this period
• the description of the waste being transferred remains static, any changes would require a new WTN to be provided.
• The premises where the waste is transferred from one person to the other does not change.
If any of these conditions change, you will need a new WTN.
What Information Should a Waste Transfer Note Contain?
A WTN must be completed and signed by both the person handing over the waste and the person receiving it. It must contain enough information about the waste for it to be handled safely and either recovered or disposed of legally. If you do not give enough information and your waste is mismanaged as a result, you could be prosecuted.
The WTN must include:
• a description of the waste
• any processes the waste has been through
• how the waste is contained/packaged
• the quantity of the waste
• the place, date and time of transfer
• the name and address of both parties
• details of the permit, licence or exemption of the person receiving the waste
• the appropriate European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code for your waste
• the Standard Industry Code (SIC) of your business
Caution: You should never rely on waste carriers or waste management brokers to describe your waste. As the producer, you should be able to describe your waste accurately.
What are Standard Industry Codes (SIC)?
Industrial Classification of Economic Activities (SIC) is used to classify business establishments and other standard units by the type of economic activity in which they are engaged. The new version of these codes (SIC2007) was adopted by the UK as from 1st January 2008
You can find the SIC code that applies to your business on the Companies House website by clicking on this link
What are European Waste Catalogue (EWC) Codes?
The EWC is a hierarchical list of waste descriptions established by Commission Decision 2000/532/EC. The descriptions and codes within the EWC are a suitable part of the description of your waste so as to comply with your duty of care.
Legal Requirement – The European Waste Catalogue codes are transposed into UK law through The List of Wastes (LOW) Regulations. The use of EWC codes is a legal requirement of the Duty of Care (DoC) legislation across the UK.
The DoC requires that a waste holder (producer, carrier or disposer) takes all reasonable steps to ensure that waste is described in a way that permits its safe handling and management and that any transfer of waste is accompanied by a written description of the waste including a LOW code. PLEASE NOTE: THOSE HANDLING WASTE ARE LEGALLY LIABLE TO USE THE RIGHT EWC CODE.
Offensive/Sanitary Waste – How do I manage the Risk?
According to the HSE thousands of workers have the potential to be ill following exposure to harmful microorganisms or other hazardous substances. Employers are responsible for taking effective measures to control exposure and protect health. For more information, click here.
The main relevant legal requirements are contained in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).6 requirements include assessing the risk from harmful substances and preventing or controlling exposure to them, this means employers should consider how employees (and others) may be exposed to harmful substances or microorganisms and decide whether they are doing enough to prevent this from happening.
Offensive/hygiene waste has the potential to harm the health of those exposed to it. Typical effects can be:
• skin/eye infections (eg conjunctivitis);
• gastroenteritis (symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting)
Clean washrooms and correct disposal, collecting & transporting of offensive waste streams by a licenced contractor ensures as a company/organisation you are doing all you can to ensure your risk is minimal.
Could exposure to bloodborne pathogens be a risk in Ladies Toilets?
Exposure to blood and bodily fluids exist in all washroom, more especially in ladies toilets, where improper treatment of sanitary waste can increase the risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens including Hepatitis B & C, HIV and other germs causing illnesses such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, E.coli and MRSA.
bloodborne pathogens are diseases that can be spread through contaminated blood, and not just via blood-to-blood contact but also other bodily fluids. The most common hazard faced when dealing with blood and bodily fluids is Hepatitis B. An estimated 2 billion people worldwide, have been infected with the Hepatitis B virus and about 350 million live with chronic infection.
How can I help keep my washrooms safe from bloodborne infections?
Providing protection in your washrooms is not as difficult as you may think, for example ensuring washrooms are cleaned daily using a good sanitiser designed to kill bacteria and passes EN 1276 compliance, is a great 1st step the other is ensuring your sanitary waste is being treated correctly.
A sanitary bin should be a unit that is an enclosed and does not allow the user to see the waste at all, sanitary bins should be a ‘No Touch’ either foot pedal operated or electronic sensor operation. Sanitary bins should preferable contain an antimicrobial liner to protect against bacterial build up from germs such as MRSA, E Coli, Legionella etc. the correct liner also ensures malodours remain inside the unit liner and do not escape into the washroom.
Sanitary bins are designed to prevent/eliminate malodour and bacteria from escaping from the unit while also working to prevent cross-contamination from not touching the unit. Sanitary Bins should be sanitised, cleaned and serviced on a regular basis the standard service period is monthly or 4 weekly service period should be no longer than 6 weeks as most sanitisers and or antimicrobial liners are only effective up to a maximum of 8 weeks. Sanitary bins should only be service by trained licenced operatives.