If your facility generates a small volume of medical waste, you’re probably aware that there are many local and federal regulations regarding medical waste. From workplace to environmental safety, the number of guidelines you must follow in handling medical waste can be overwhelming—which is why most facilities opt to let a professional medical waste service take care of the disposal process for them.
Medical waste disposal companies can accommodate facilities of all sizes, from research hospitals to tattoo parlors. Because each facility produces unique volumes of medical waste, disposal companies have services to meet a variety of needs. Facilities with small or inconsistent amounts of medical waste often choose to dispose of their waste with flexible mailback medical waste disposal services.
In this article, we’ll discuss how mailback medical waste disposal works and what types of waste are mailable. Then we’ll explore which regulations you’ll have to be in compliance with, and how using a mailback service is the best way to ensure your compliance.
How Does Mailback Medical Waste Disposal Work?
In a nutshell, the process of mailback disposal is a relatively simple one when working with a medical waste disposal company. Your service provider can help you assess whether or not mailback services are the best option for you, as well as what materials you’ll need to get started.
Because some types of waste need to be sorted and packaged differently, it’s important to determine what types of medical waste you’ll be dealing with. Below are a few different types of medical waste that can be mailed.
Sharps Medical Waste
Sharps are items such as needles, lancets, syringes, orthodontic wires, scalpels, glass, etc. Sharps pose a risk of spreading infectious diseases and can easily cause injury. They must be sorted into a separate, hard shell, lockable container that is properly labeled.
Most businesses are required to have sharps storage containers in the workplace for employee safety. Households that regularly administer medications with needles—such as insulin for diabetics—benefit from having a sharps container as these items cannot simply be thrown in the trash.
Soft Medical Waste
Soft medical waste includes, but isn’t limited to, any paper products, gauze, gloves, IV tubing (without needles), patient gowns, bandages with dried blood or body fluids, personal protective equipment, and plastic products.
Some of your medical waste may be too hazardous to mail, and every state defines its biohazardous waste criteria differently. It’s important to let your provider know if you feel that you have any biohazardous waste, because some of these wastes may not be permitted to be mailed.
Many pharmacies, health clinics, and residences find themselves with expired medications. Simply tossing the medications in the trash can introduce toxic chemical substances into the environment and may put others, such as infants, at risk. Some pharmaceuticals are even legally required to undergo treatment before disposal.
Mailback services are cost-effective solutions for facilities with pharmaceutical waste, as this waste is typically small in volume.
Dental Amalgam Waste
Dental amalgam is a material used in fillings and is commonly referred to as a silver filling. Dental amalgam contains liquid mercury and poses a threat to those exposed to it. Because of its mercury content, dental amalgam may not be thrown in the trash, but can be disposed of with a mailback service.
The Step-By-Step Process
After you’ve assessed which types of medical waste you have, your disposal company will provide the correct materials needed to store and ship your waste. Once you have your materials, you’re ready to begin the mailback medical waste disposal process:
- Sort and Collect Your Waste: The disposal company will provide you with detailed instructions on which types of wastes are permitted to be placed in each specific receptacle they have provided. Be certain to adhere to all sorting and collection recommendations. One mistake could result in severe medical waste disposal violations. We recommend checking that their instructions adhere with local laws, and posting the instructions near every receptacle.
- Package Your Waste Container: You’ll receive all appropriate shipping materials and instructions as to how to package your waste. All medical waste must be properly labeled, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
- Fill Out and Sign the Destruction Manifest: These forms are not only necessary for safety compliance—they allow you to conveniently keep track of your service history. Fill out any information, sign, and be sure to keep your customer copy. Once your materials have reached their destination, your provider will complete the form and send it back to you.
- Finally, Ship Your Items!
Most medical waste can actually be stored for quite a while, which means you’re free to fill up your container until it’s ready to be mailed. You won’t waste money on a regularly scheduled pickup service for a small volume of waste, but you have the option to send in your containers on a regular schedule if you’d like—even if they aren’t completely filled up.
What Regulations Apply to Transporting Medical Waste?
There are inherent risks in the shipping and transportation of any hazardous materials, which is why it is so vital to follow your service provider’s instructions carefully. There may also be stringent local regulations in place, so be sure to do your research before choosing this option.
Below are federal agencies with regulations concerning the transportation of medical waste. Read about more regulations that address different aspects of the disposal process here.
The U.S. Department of Transportation
The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) includes regulated medical waste in its definition of hazardous materials and offers specific guidelines for packaging and shipping these materials
According to HMR, the shipper is solely responsible for properly packaging medical waste before it is transported. All employees who are involved with the packaging process must also be properly trained on the process.
For more information on DOT regulations, click here.
The United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has rigorous guidelines for the packaging of medical waste, and demands that all materials be shipped through USPS-approved containers.
Using a mailback service makes this process easier because disposal companies only provide USPS certified containers. You won’t have to worry about spending hours researching and acquiring the correct materials on your own with a mailback service provider.
For more information of USPS guidelines, click here.
Use the Highest-Quality Standards for Your Mailback Medical Waste Disposal
The best way to mail your medical waste for treatment and disposal is to use a mailback medical waste service provider. Using a service provider adds an extra layer of compliance security because it creates a higher level of accountability. Having a medical waste disposal expert double-check your disposal program and manage your disposal supplies for you allows you to focus on what you do best while remaining compliant.
Most businesses outsource a service because it is more cost-effective to let an expert handle it rather than deplete valuable resources trying to do it alone. Medical waste disposal procedures are difficult to follow—fortunately, Medical Waste Pros offers affordable, flexible solutions.
Get Free, No-Obligation Quotes on Medical Waste Mailback Disposal Services Today
Medical Waste Pros can help you find a reliable local provider to help you select the mailback system that works best for your medical waste disposal. Leave the hard work to certified, compliant experts so you can focus on your business.
To get started, fill out the form to the right, or give us a call at (888) 755-6370 for a free quote on mailback or any of our other available services. Within minutes, we’ll get you free, no obligation quotes for your service.