How do they dispose of medical waste?


What is medical waste?

We define medical waste as any potentially infectious material produced in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and physical offices.

How do they dispose of medical waste?

Common types of medical waste include:

Anatomical/pathological waste

Bandages, gloves and other supplies

Microbial culture and storage



Blood products

Reasons for prioritizing proper disposal of medical waste

Legal – Compliance with OSHA guidelines on how to manage and dispose of medical waste can help reduce legal liability.

Health – Proper collection and disposal of waste helps to minimize the potential risk of infection from contaminated materials.

Environment – The use of appropriate disposal methods (e.g. incineration) helps prevent hazardous medical waste from entering landfills and oceans.

Number of medical waste

On average, hospital beds produce 33 pounds of waste per day, which means the United States generates 5.9 million tons of waste each year.

Collection and separation of medical waste

In addition, there are a range of types of medical waste, such as sharps and medicines. They also need to be collected separately in different containers due to their different handling and disposal methods.

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Sharps Waste Disposal

Sharp objects need to be handled in hard plastic containers. Sharps are one of the most common types of medical waste, as they are used in many places for a variety of reasons.

Therefore, they need to be separated and placed in separate containers in the following facilities:

The hospital

Emergency care facility

Rehabilitation facilities


The nursing home

Doctor’s office

The pharmacy

Red Bag Waste Disposal

Red bag treatment is specifically used for biohazard waste (also known as potentially infectious waste).

Examples of clinical waste used for red bags include:

Discarded surgical tools and equipment

Bandages, gauze, gloves and robes

Articles containing dried blood and fluid

Bloody objects

Cytotoxic waste

Pathological waste

Abandoned the vaccine

Yellow Container Disposal

Yellow containers Medical waste Yellow waste containers are used for trace chemotherapy waste that is considered “RCRA empty” according to EPA standards.

“RCRA empty” means that the material is empty and the residual volume is less than 3% of its original volume. Therefore, this usually includes:

Empty ampoules and vials

Empty syringes and needles

Unfilled IV bags and iv tubes

Dress, gloves and apron

Used wipes and packaging

Black Container Disposal

Yellow is used for trace chemical waste and black containers are used for chemotherapy waste that is not “RCRA empty”.

Also known as “bulk” waste, common types of RCRA hazardous waste include:

Half/part of the drug dose

Partially used vials, bags and IV lines

P column material and container

Pathological chemical waste

PPE and cleaning materials

Blue Container Disposal

Finally, blue containers are used to collect pharmaceutical waste that RCRA defines as hazardous.

Types of hazardous pharmaceutical waste are defined by the RCRA’s P and U lists and include drugs such as:




Lin Dan

Bulk powder

Expired/unused pills and injections

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