Why Is Color Coding Biomedical Waste Important?

by | Sep 1, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

The biomedical industry has over the years developed an excellent color coding scheme that visually categorizes waste. Visually categorizing waste using color makes waste management a lot easier, especially when there is a chain of command in place to ensure that the waste is disposed of correctly.
People responsible for discarding waste can easily make sure that the waste they are discarding matches the color of the bin. Just about anyone can learn it and teach it, regardless of their education level, which makes it so effective. Also, the odds of waste getting mixed up are a lot lower, though mistakes can still happen, but are rare.

Why Does Biomedical Waste Need To Be Separated?

People in the biomedical industry know that there is more than one type of waste. The key is making sure that hazardous waste, in particular, is separated and processed correctly. Even though most medical waste generated in clinics, research centers, and hospitals is incinerated, they still need to be handled correctly.
Medical facilities have figured out that the best way to handle biomedical waste is to do so on-site. Sterilizers, waste shredders and other tools are commonly used to process waste.

Biomedical Waste and Color Codes

Biomedical waste, as stated earlier, are assigned a color code based on its type. However, depending on where you are, there could be slight variations of the colors used. The general idea remains the same.
Primary categories of waste include:

Sharp waste

These will generally include objects like blades, knives, scalpels etc.


Recyclable contaminated waste

These are items that are discarded as waste but can be recycled. These include gloves, syringes and intravenous tubes.


Medical waste

Mainly stuff that’s used in the lab like formalin, and other disinfectants. The waste may also include expired drugs, like antibiotics.


Lab waste

Usually microorganisms and vaccines along with some other stuff.


Pathological waste

This is waste that has been removed from the body like organs, tissue and blood etc.


Infectious waste

Usually, these are tools that may have come in contact with the body or fluids. These will include bandages and swabs etc.

Benefits of Color Coding

Color coding helps to segregate various types of biomedical waste. The segregation makes it easier to:
  • Determine how biomedical waste is treated.
  • Make it easier to recycle whatever can be recycled.
  • Prevent the reuse of dangerous, expired or illegal chemicals.
Businesses need to strictly adhere to colour-coding schemes as mandated by the Federal and local government. Not only is this practice safe and good for the environment, but it will also ensure that the business isn’t fined for negligence. Not to mention that improper handling of biomedical waste can also become a workplace hazard opening the door to various types of lawsuits.
Color coding biomedical waste is the first and the most crucial step towards ensuring that it is disposed of and handled correctly. While many items used in the medical industry are recycled, staff members need to be trained to use the correct protocol for each type of waste they generate or handle.