ACT Division President Update - October 202304 Oct 2023
Dear friends and colleagues,
Below are some key highlights from the past month. If you haven't already seen it, I also strongly encourage you to look at my last update here.
Clinical Waste Disposal in the ACT
Many years ago, your Division Committee negotiated a way of substantially reducing costs (and difficulty for ACT veterinary practices. It would seem this knowledge and benefit has been lost to members (as practices have changed hands) and in the memory of the ACT Government. This arrangement allows veterinary clinical waste to go through normal commercial waste channels to landfill, and not to have to be bagged, collected and disposed of as clinical waste (at greater expense).
ACT regulations require that all clinical waste be separated from non-clinical waste, handled by specialist operators, and incinerated. The Clinical Waste Act 1990 defines such waste to include
- waste consisting of a catheter, hypodermic needle, intravenous set, pipette or scalpel;
- waste consisting of any other instrument or object that has been used in the taking of blood whether human or animal
- waste resulting from the investigation or analysis of tissue or fluid specimens, whether human or animal
- biological or chemical waste resulting from the investigation of human or animal diseases
- waste derived from a prescribed activity, being waste that includes or included human blood, or animal blood in any form other than food waste
- human or animal tissue or body fluids, removed during surgery or an autopsy
- waste consisting of a cytotoxic substance or waste that is, or is likely to be, contaminated by a cytotoxic substance
In 2002 members of the then Division Committee (Drs Michael Banyard, Randal Lemin, Pat Boland and Rob Boxall) negotiated an MOU with the ACT Government on the basis that the majority of waste generated in a veterinary practice did not constitute a risk to human health, and the Government agreed that the main concern was that bags of garbage bursting open at the tip face and spiling out blood stained materials and tissues could be considered of human origin and hence a health hazard. This concern could be alleviated by labelling of bags as “Veterinary Waste”. Of course, all sharps and cytotoxic / radioactive wastes must still be disposed of as Clinical Waste.
The agreement was that bags of waste from veterinary facilities which did not contain sharps, cytotoxic, radioactive or potentially zoonotic waste, could pass through normal waste management channels to the tip face IF they were labelled with TWO labels accepted by the ACT Government – these must be ~ 75 x 150 mm, black text on a blue background, with one applied near the neck and one at the base of the bag.
For a number of years, AVA ACT arranged printing and supplied such labels; over time, demand fell away and my practice has ours printed commercially.
Several years ago our normal waste carrier questioned that our obviously veterinary waste was being carried by them (a potential offence under the Act), and disposed of at the tup face – they accepted the MOU and have continued to carry our labelled waste as normal Trade Waste.
Our practice also recently had a query from the ACT Government, who seem to have forgotten the MOU and the category of “Veterinary Waste. Dr Melanie Latter found saved versions of both the MOU and our communication with members in 2002 ; we have not heard from the Government about this since.
Copies of these documents are hyperlinked, and will likely assist members wishing to utilise this facility if negotiating with a carrier or the Government.
We have been holding a few small meetings for our equine colleagues over the last 12 months, and the next one is a night of Equine Dermatology with Specialist Dr Dani Hoolahan (who lives in Murrumbateman). The meeting is for equine vets, but please email me if you’re interested as we may have space to welcome you if you’re interested. Thursday, 12 October from 7.30 PM, at Gungahlin Veterinary Hospital. You must book if you want to come – email me!
Also, in case you missed it, I strongly encourage you to take a look at my last update here. It included some key info on:
- AVA changes
- ACT Election – AVA Election Platform
And feel free to contact me at any time with questions, suggestions, or concerns.
With very best wishes
ACT Division President