How to dispose of medical waste properly

medical waste disposal

How to dispose of medical waste properly

When renting a dumpster, one must take note that medical waste is prohibited in the dumpster by law. Proper disposal of medical waste is important for public safety and the environment.  For example, discarded needles can expose a risk to waste management workers for potential needle injuries and infections such as HIV and hepatitis.

medical waste symbol

The Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 defines medical waste as “any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals,in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals.” Medical waste can be identified by one of four different categories: infectious, hazardous, radioactive, and general.
Source –

The wastes of primary interest are:
Medicines which can be prescription or non-prescription (over-the-counter), for people or pets. Buy the amount that you think you will be able to use before it expires.
In the case that you have to dispose of unused medications follow these simple steps:
a. Pour  medicines into a plastic sealable bag then crush tablets or capsules, You can also add a small amount of water to dissolve it and add an absorbent material such as cotton, sawdust, used  coffee grounds. Seal the plastic bag and put it in your household trash.

b. Remove prescription label and personal information on the container. You can recycle or discard the container  accordingly

Sharps – such Blades (scalpels, razors)  Pasteur Pipets
Hypodermic needles with attahced syringes (barrel and plungers) tubings
Used and unused sharps  discarded by the individual home owner should be disposed in an appropriate sharps container that  is puncture resistant, leak proof and able to be tightly sealed to prevent the sharps from spilling.  No sharps should be discarded directly into household  trash. Never remove needles from syringes


Other infectious wastes  such as  human blood, animal blood, body elements, body fluids, liquid & semi-liquid materials animal carcass and body parts. or other potentially
infectious materials. from homes such as human and animal bodily fluids (blood, excrement) or other potentially infectious materials should be double bagged
and tied securely before being discarded with household trash.

More details can be found in SWS’s Medical Waste Disposal Policy at

More on Biohazardous and Medical Waste Guidelines from Standford University


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