Medical Waste and Sharps Disposal FAQs

We realize that the subject of regulated medical waste sometimes can be complicated and confusing, and we’re here to answer any questions you may have.

What is a biohazard?

In general, the term “biohazard” describes any biological material (ie, plants, animals, microorganisms, or their byproducts) that may present a potential risk to the health and well-being of humans, animals, or the environment 29 CFR 1910.1030 (g)(1)(i)(A).

What goes in the red bag?
Always check your facility’s policies and procedures and adhere to your specific guidelines. Generally, these DO go into a red bag:

  • Visibly bloody gloves, plastic tubing, or personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Gauze, bandages or other items saturated with blood
  • Securely closed disposable sharps containers

Special handling, marking and local regulations may apply to these:

  • Certain pathological waste
  • Trace chemotherapy

These DON’T go in the red bag:

  • Medications
  • Compressed gas cylinders (they’re hazardous waste, not biohazards)
  • Loose sharps (they go in sharps containers)
  • Hazardous and chemical waste
  • Radioactive waste
  • Fixatives and preservatives
  • Biotech or food processing waste that does not contain a potentially infectious agent
  • Household waste, food, paper products, and other medical solid waste (unless potentially infectious)

How do I package my red bag medical waste?
Medical waste generators are legally responsible for packaging their waste.
Step 1: Line your container with the red bag prior to use.
Step 2: Tie the bag when the container is full.
Each bag must be hand-tied by gathering and twisting the neck of the bag.
Step 3: Secure the lid on the container.
Make sure all closure and/or locking mechanisms are engaged. Red bags must not be visible once the container is closed.
Step 4: Check the containers markings.
Ensure that federal markings (biohazard symbol, this-side-up-arrows, regulated medical waste, N.O.S., and UN number) are present. Ensure you’re complying with your individual state regulations.
Improperly packaged containers or damaged containers will be denied pickup or returned to the customer.

What Goes in the Sharps Disposal Container?
Sharps include, but aren’t limited to, needles, lancets, syringes, broken glass, scalpels, culture slides, culture dishes, broken capillary tubes, broken rigid plastic, and exposed ends of dental wires. Laboratory slides and cover slips contaminated with infectious agents. Our sharps disposal services has a more complete description of sharps waste.

How do I package my sharps waste?
Step 1: Place sharps in a puncture-resistant container designed for sharps waste. Do not allow loose sharps in any waste container other than the sharps container.
Step 2: Securely close the container.
Step 3: Place disposable containers in the red bag waste or schedule for pickup.