How to Properly Dispose of Medical Waste in North America

Medical wastes are materials that can cause harm by spreading infectious diseases if they are not disposed of properly. Facilities should adequately practice the disposal of these wastes for the better protection of the patients and staff. Here are some guidelines that you can follow.

What is Medical Waste

To have a better grasp, medical wastes are anything that can potentially infect people from materials produced at health care facilities and hospitals. One example is sharps containers and sharps disposal.

Why the Need to Prioritize Proper Medical Waste Dumping              

Here are three reasons why we need to prioritize the medical waste disposal for healthcare facilities in North America

  • It helps in minimizing the infection risks from the contaminated items.
  • To help reduce legal liabilities by complying with the OHSA guidelines in managing and disposal of medical wastes.
  • If using the proper treatment process, it can help in keeping the hazardous wastes out of the oceans and landfills.

Collecting and Separating Medical Waste

There are different ways of disposing medical wastes and should be managed in separate containers as well. Here are the methods of collecting and separating the wastes:

  • Sharps Containers and Sharps Disposal. One of the most common types of biomedical wastes is sharps. The recommendation is to isolate and dispose of them using individual containers.
  • Red Bag Disposal. These are biohazardous wastes, which includes: discarded vaccines, pathological wastes, blood-soaked items, items with dry fluids or blood, cytotoxic wastes, discarded surgical equipment, and tools.
  • Yellow Bag Disposal. Used for trace chemotherapy waste, which, according to EPA-standard, considered RCPA empty meaning materials that are less than 3% or devoid of the original content. It includes empty ampules and vials, empty syringes and needles, used packaging or wipes, and empty IV bags and tubings.
  • Black Container Disposal. Designated for trace chemo waste that’s not RCRA empty. Also called as bulk waste which includes: P-listed substances and containers, PPE and cleaning materials, half or partial medication doses, and pathological chemo wastes.
  • Blue Container Disposal. Used for the collection of pharmaceutical waste that is hazardous as per RCRA. These are drugs such as nicotine, bulk powders, lindanes, warfarin, cyclophosphamide, expired or unused pills, and injectables.

Once all of the wastes are correctly segregated, like sharps containers and sharps disposal, they are treated using autoclaving, irradiation, and incineration.


Proper disposal management of these hazardous waste will not only prevent the spread of diseases but will also help in making the environment more safe and clean for you and the future generation to enjoy. Doing the proper medical waste disposal for healthcare facilities in North America is just the start towards a healthy and better life.