Different types of waste are disposed of in unique dustbins or plastic bag colours. The disparity in colour is to prevent pre-exposing the environment to certain harmful wastes.

Some wastes are often sterilized before disposal to prevent any kind of contamination. Therefore, waste disposal colour codes were formulated to ensure the “waste end user does the sorting”. The colour coding helps to differentiate biomedical wastes for effective waste management.

In most cases, hazardous medical waste should be incinerated instead of being disposed of in a landfill where people can easily get access to them. Let’s learn more about the medical waste disposal colour codes.

Waste Disposal Colour Codes

The different waste disposal colour codes help reduce the biomedical wastes that require special treatment, prevent the reuse of certain medical items, and provide opportunities for recycling some medical wastes after proper sterilization.

1. Yellow Hazardous Waste Bag

The yellow waste bags accommodate pathological waste, soiled infected waste, fetuses, amputated parts, placenta, medical waste, clinical lab, sharp materials, and pharmaceutical waste.

2. Red Hazardous Waste Bag

The red hazardous waste bag is appropriate for contaminated waste, human anatomy wastes, semen, saliva tissues, organs, animal corpses, body fluids, urine bags, syringes, used gloves, and blood-contaminated materials.  The most hazardous medical wastes are often disposed of in red waste bags.

3. White Hazardous Waste Bags

The white hazardous waste bags are ideal for disposing of dental wastes such as amalgam, gypsum, teeth with fillings, and old dental study moulds.

4. Blue Hazardous Waste Bags

The blue hazardous waste bags are great for storing medical glassware waste. It is appropriate for broken or unbroken glassware, metallic body, glass pieces, bottles, and syringes.

5. Black Waste Bags

These bags are used to collect other types of hospital waste such as food, paper, and bottles. Generally, the stuff that can safely be disposed of in landfills.

6. Yellow and Black Striped Waste Bags

They are used to dispose of non-hazardous wastes that are not infectious or irritating to any of the senses. These include diapers, sanitary waste, wipes, and PPEs.

7. Purple Waste Bags

They are appropriate for disposing of cytotoxic and cytostatic wastes. These include any waste gotten from chemotherapy-related drugs, materials like bandages, needles, IV bags, and dressings.

Colour Coding Symbols

The different waste disposal plastic bags and containers are often labeled with some symbols. The symbols are meant to warn people about the sensitivity of the waste.

Therefore, to adhere to international standards, medical centers are supposed to purchase disposal bags or containers with these symbols:

Coding Recommendation(WHO – UNEP/SBC 2005)

Types Of WasteColour Coding – SymbolTypes Of Container
0. Household RefuseBlackPlastic Bag
1. SharpsYellow and  Sharpe Container
2a. Waste entailing a risk of contamination
2b. Anatomical Waste
Yellow and Plastic bag or container
2c. Infectious WasteYellow Marked “Highly Infectious” and Plastic bag or container which can be autoclaved
3. Chemical and Pharmaceutical wasteBrown marked with a suitable symbol(see Annex 4, chapter 4: labeling of chemicals).

E.g :     

Plastic bag, container


Medical wastes need to be segregated in the right disposal plastic bags and containers to protect people, humans, plants, and ecosystems from certain infections.

Proper sanitation and hygiene is essential when it comes to bedding, curtains, sharp objects, specimen, and other things used in medical centers. If contamination happens, it can affect the doctors and even the patients which can lead to infections and disease spread.

Therefore, medical professionals need to be careful when disposing of waste.

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