5 Colour Codes for Waste Disposal You Should Know

Colour codes for waste disposal is what has and will still help in the sorting of waste to ensure effective waste disposal.

Colours though very basic, can be used to simplify complex phenomena like the use of colours in the control of traffic. Colours can also be used to differentiate complex terminologies from simple ones.

Examples include the use of colours for the calibration of a database from smallest to biggest.

Colours are also used to differentiate a product, substance, or functionality from another, an example includes the use of colours in different waste bins for appropriate disposal.

Waste can be said to be items that we discard because we don’t need them. Waste has been what is with man since our inception on this Earth. You cannot totally get rid of waste. What we can try to do is to minimise our waste generation to the nearest minimum.

Even though what we can do about waste is to minimise its generation as absolute elimination is not possible, we can bring up ways to effectively manage the waste that is still generated.

This is when man started bringing out ways to effectively manage waste giving birth to what we can call “Waste Management”. This process is a clear and trusted method by which we can effectively manage waste.

Sources of Waste

Waste comes from different sources and waste is grouped according to these sources. They include:

  • Domestic waste: from houses
  • Industrial waste: from various industrial processes
  • Biomedical waste: from hospitals, nursing homes, pathological, laboratories, pharmaceuticals.
  • Agricultural waste: from agricultural activities-herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers, farming activities.
  • Animal waste: associated with agricultural activities but in this sense, animals waste from slaughterhouses.
  • Nuclear waste: from nuclear power plants radioactive elements.
  • Mineral waste: includes heavy metal residues found in and around mines like lead, arsenic, cadmium, etc.

Categories of Waste

There are different types of waste but they can be grouped into four categories. These are:

  • Liquid Waste

This includes dirty water, wash water, organic liquids, waste detergents and sometimes rainwater. They are usually wasted from households, restaurants, industries and other businesses.

Liquid waste is grouped depending on the source of the waste into point source and non-point source liquid waste. Point source liquid waste refers to waste that comes from a known source. An example is manufacturing waste.

Non-point source liquid waste refers to liquid waste that emanates from different sources. An example is natural liquid waste.

  • Rubbish

This is a type of waste that is solid and comprises a large variety of materials. They can be found mainly in homes and commercial locations. They are grouped into four categories:

  • Plastic Waste–consists of bags, containers, jars, bottles made of plastic.
  • Paper/Card Waste – includes newspapers, packaging materials, cardboard, etc.
  • Tins and Metals– can be found in different forms throughout your home or business
  • Ceramics and Glass– consist of broken ceramic cups and plates, glass bottles, etc.
  • Organic Waste

These are wastes that comprise mainly carbon and hydrogen or CH bonds with other elements. This waste can be found everywhere but mainly food waste, garden waste, so on. While this waste is broken down by microorganisms over time, it still needs to be appropriately disposed of when generated.

  • Recyclable Rubbish

This waste consists of rubbish that can be recycled and turned into useful products. They mainly include construction waste such as masonry, metal, paper, and furniture that can be recycled.

  • Hazardous Waste

Hazard waste refers to any waste that’s toxic, flammable, corrosive, or reactive. Such waste can be harmful to both you and the environment. Examples of hazardous waste include toxic chemicals and electronic rubbish. This waste come mainly from industries and hospitals.

According to Wikipedia waste management includes the collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of waste, together with monitoring and regulation of the waste management process and waste-related laws, technologies, economic mechanism.

For effective waste management to be done there is a need for a colours code for waste disposal. When there are colour codes for waste disposal, waste is going to be sorted efficiently as colours significantly differ one waste bin from the other.

Why are Colour Codes for Waste Disposal Necessary?

Colour codes for waste disposal aids in the basic separation of different categories of waste generated at the source. It also helps to reduce the risks and cost of handling and disposal. It also ensures effective waste management.

Certain waste can only be disposed of via a certain process. Harmful chemical by-products are to be incinerated, which means they must be separated from other waste that is simply going to a landfill.

Of other classification of waste, waste can also be classified as hazardous or non-hazardous waste and away one can effectively manage and dispose of this waste in their various classifications is by using colours to differentiate the waste bins.

Since waste poses a risk to the health and wellbeing of the environment, proper management of waste is essential to maintain hygiene, aesthetics, cleanliness, and control of environmental pollution.

Colour codes for waste disposal are necessary because hazards can come from infectious waste which contains pathogens and can affect HCWs and BBV transmission can occur through sharp waste.

Also if chemical waste is mixed with other waste as a result of no colour coding, chemical waste which are toxic and corrosive may cause physical injuries and chemical burns. Some waste can be very hazardous leading to several adverse effects like mutations, cancer and even tissue destruction.

Colour Codes for Waste Disposal

And for other waste sources, the colour codes for waste disposal are very much different. Also, the colour codes for waste disposal vary in different countries and organisations. Also, colour codes for waste disposal can be very different but as far as the coloured bins or bags are labelled for plastics, recyclables, metals, glassware, radioactive materials, etc.

The colours can vary from red to blue to green to white to brown to black. The list can still go on and on. Some examples of colour codes are listed below:

  • BLUE – Paper Recycling
  • GREEN – Organic Recycling
  • RED – Landfill Waste
  • YELLOW – Mixed Recycling
  • WHITE – Soft Plastic Recycling

1. Blue Bins

Papers which are to be recycled are put in this bin. The papers include Office Paper Only, Clean Cardboard, etc.

2. Green Bins

Here, organic materials like food waste, prunings, fruit and vegetables, flowers, plate scrapings including meat, fish and leftovers and coffee grounds are disposed of so they can be taken to a composting site and turned into biogas for energy and agricultural use.

3. Red Bins

In the red bin, drinking glassware, broken crockery, cling wrap, plastic bags, packing straps, sticky tape, glazed wrappers and polystyrene are deposited so they can be taken to the landfill for disposal.

4. Yellow Bins

In the yellow bin, Glass Bottles, Clean Cardboard, Newspaper, Plastic, Office Paper, Aluminium Cans, Milk and juice Cartons and Disposable Coffee Cup – LIDS ONLY are deposited so they can go for mix recycling.

5. White Bins

In the white bin, Bread bags (not with ties), Pasta and rice Bags, Cling Wrap, Plastic Bags, Biscuit Packets, Frozen Food Bags, Green Recycling Bags, Confectionery Bags, and Bubble Wrap are deposited so they can go for soft plastics recycling.

It is good to note that the colour codes for waste disposal for the disposal of biomedical waste are not the same as colour codes for waste disposal for the waste generated from other sources.

According to biomedical waste (management and handling) rules, 1998 India “biomedical waste is any waste generated during the diagnosis, treatment of human beings or animals or research activities about the production or testing of biologicals”.

Biomedical waste is 75-85% non-infectious, 10-15% infectious, and 5-10% hazardous.

Biomedical waste is divided into 10 waste categories:

  • Human and anatomical waste
  • Animal waste
  • Microbiology and biotechnology waste
  • Waste sharps
  • Discarded medicines and outdated drugs
  • Soiled waste
  • Solid waste liquid waste
  • Incineration ash
  • Chemical waste

Below are the colour codes for waste disposal of biomedical waste:

  • Yellow Bags
  • Red Bags
  • Blue Bags
  • White Bins
  • Black Bins

1. Yellow Bags

Yellow is one of the colour codes for waste disposal and it is a non-chlorinated plastic bag used for the collection of human and anatomical waste comprising human tissues, organs, fetuses, amputated parts, and placenta.

Other waste like dressings and bandages, soiled waste (plaster casts, cotton swabs, residual/discarded blood bags), expired and discarded medicine (cytotoxic drugs, antibiotics), discarded linen, mattresses and beddings,

pre-treated microbiology, biotechnology, and clinical lab waste (blood bags, cultures, residual toxins, dishes and devices, microorganism specimens) and chemical waste (discarded reagents, disinfectants).

These kinds of waste can be incinerated or buried deep underground or treated using plasma pyrolysis.

2. Red Bags

This is one of the colour codes for waste disposal and it is a non-chlorinated plastic bag used for the collection of disposable rubber items which include a contaminated waste (recyclable) tubing (IV sets, catheters, NG tubes), bottles, intravenous tubes and sets, catheters, urine bags, syringes (without needles), used gloves and a specimen container.

These kinds of waste can be treated by autoclaving, microwaving and chemical treatment techniques and then sent to the recycling. It should not be sent to the landfill.

3. Blue Bags

This is one of the colour codes for waste disposal and it is a cardboard box with blue coloured marking used for the collection of infected broken glass/bottle, broken or unbroken glassware vials ampoules, glassware/IV bottles (0.45 NS), Mannitol injection bottle, metallic body, implants glassware item used inward, glass piece, glass bottles, glass siles (laborites), glass syringes.

These kinds of waste can be treated by autoclaving, microwaving, and chemical treatment techniques and then sent to the recycling.

4. White Bins

This is one of the colour codes for waste disposal and it is a white puncture-proof box or container used for the collection of waste sharp including metals, needles, syringe fixed needles, scalpel blades/razors, suture needles, spine needles, contaminated sharp metal objects, lancets, nails.

These kinds of waste can be treated by auto or dry heat sterilization followed by shredding mutilation or encapsulation and then sent to the recycling.

5. Black Bins

This is one of the colour codes for waste disposal and it is used for the collection of general hospital waste, food waste, paper waste, and waste bottles. These kinds of waste can be treated and then sent to a secure landfill.


Editor at EnvironmentGo! | providenceamaechi0@gmail.com | + posts

A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

One comment

  1. Thanks for pointing out that animal-related wastes should also be properly separated from other kinds of garbage. I’m interested in looking for waste containers soon because I want to be a lot more serious about segregating my trash in the future. That would be a good first step towards living a more eco-friendly life.

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