Hospitals

This webpage provides guidance on how to responsibly dispose of waste water in hospitals.

This content refers to both private and public hospitals that provide medical or surgical treatment to patients.

It is important to note that some facilities may have the word 'hospital' in their business title, but are actually classified as a 'care facility'. See our page on care facilities for more information.

Care facilities

Permit requirements

Hospitals discharging to sewer are required to apply for and obtain approval to discharge trade waste. The official permission is in the form of a trade waste permit. The trade waste permit attracts an annual fee.

Management of clinical and related waste

Hospitals generate a range of wastes. Of particular interest are clinical and related waste. Clinical waste has the potential to cause disease, sharps injury or public offence. It includes sharps, human tissue waste, body fluids, laboratory waste (such as specimens) and animal waste.

Related waste includes pharmaceutical, cytotoxic, chemical and radioactive waste.

  • Pharmaceutical waste includes discarded, returned, expired or out of specification pharmaceutical products, residues from preparation of pharmaceuticals and residues from the administration of pharmaceuticals
  • Cytotoxic waste is waste, including sharps, contaminated with a cytotoxic drug
  • Chemical waste is waste generated from chemical use in medical, laboratory or other procedures
  • Radioactive waste is waste, including sharps, contaminated with a radioisotope from medical or research use

The Department of Health’s Clinical and Related Waste Management Policy (OD 0651/16, January 2016) specifies disposal options for clinical and related wastes. Essentially only blood and body fluids may be discharged to sewer. Other waste is excluded.

Pharmaceutical waste should be collected and disposed offsite by high temperature incineration. This includes Schedule 8 pharmaceuticals, which may be made unusable and unrecognizable prior to disposal with other pharmaceutical waste.

Cytotoxic waste should be collected in bins identified for the purpose and disposed offsite by high temperature incineration.

Chemical waste can be generated from a range of sources at hospitals. For laboratory waste, see our page on management of laboratory chemical waste for more information. The waste from autoanalysers in pathology laboratories is mostly buffer solutions and can be disposed to sewer, as can small amounts of common lab reagents such as acids, alkalis and water-miscible solvents such as ethanol and acetone. Significant amounts of heavy metals, persistent or toxic organic compounds, or cultures with pathogenic microorganisms are not acceptable.

The discharge of chemical waste from other medical or general procedures is not acceptable without approval from us.

Disposal of radioactive waste to sewer requires the approval of the Radiological Council of WA as a condition of our approval. See our page on radioactive waste for more information.

Quality–quantity (usage) charges

Hospitals attract quality and quantity (QQ) charges, reflecting the trade wastewater loading the add to the wastewater system.

The calculation of QQ charges for hospitals is based on the number of beds and the type of activities that occur at the site.

Investigation of the waste streams within hospitals has identified the main waste producing processes as:

  • theatre, anaesthesia, endoscopy and central sterilising
  • hydrotherapy pool
  • bin wash (if discharging to sewer)
  • the Mortuary (if performing autopsies)
  • radiology and imaging departments (excluding those using digital processes)
  • renal dialysis
  • laboratories (ie. pathology, haematology, biochemistry, microbiology)
  • kitchen
  • cafeteria
  • laundry
  • blow down from boilers
  • cooling towers.

The quality–quantity charges for waste streams are calculated using one of the following 3 methods:

  • Set volume per bed equivalent.
  • Fixed volume for the waste stream regardless of facility size.
  • Volume calculated based on the operation of the particular process.

The tables below indicate the applicable methods and data for calculating each waste stream.

More information

For further information call us on 13 13 95.

Data tables

Table 1: Bed equivalent rate calculations

Waste stream

Volume 
kL/bed/yr

Biochemical oxygen demand
(BOD)
mg/L

Suspended soils
(SS)
mg/L

Total Kjeldahl nitrogen
(TKN)
mg/L

Total phosphorus
(TP)
mg/L

Oil and grease
(O&G)
mg/L

Theatre, anaesthesia, endoscopy or central sterilising 5 0 0 0 0 0
Bin wash to sewer 0.3 250 100 0 0 0
Kitchen (meal heat only) 5.1 660 190 0 0 0
Kitchen (meal preparation) 8.5 1240 275 29 12 91
Cafeteria (meal preparation) 1.5 1200 400 0 0 0
Laundry 42 80 40 0 0 0
Boiler blow down 0.06 0 0 0 0 0
Cooling towers Bleed rate  0 0 0 0 0

Table 2: Process fixed volume calculations

Waste Stream

Volume
(kL/year)

All Quality Parameters

Hydrotherapy Pool 120 0
Laboratories 26 0
Cafeteria
(light snacks only)
50 0

Table 3: Process operation rate calculations

Wastestream

Volume

Unit

BOD 
mg/L

TKN
mg/L

SO4
mg/L

Silver 
mg/L

Mortuary 1 kL per post mortem 0 0 0 0
Radiology & imaging 1 kL per processor 
per day
600 155 1560 1.5
Renal dialysis  0.03 kL per unit per hour 0 0 0 0

More information

Email us at: tradewaste@watercorporation.com.au


OR


Call us on:

13 13 95