Biomedical Waste Disposal Guidelines

Healthcare organizations and practices generate biomedical waste daily, and the bigger the organization, the larger the waste generation. As with any waste generation, it requires disposal. However, with biomedical waste, the process depends on the type of waste and the regulations surrounding its disposal. 

Types of Biomedical Waste

Biomedical waste can be broken down into 4 categories, each with their own disposal requirements and regulations. Those types are hazardous waste, infectious waste, radioactive waste, and sharps. 

For the purposes of this blog, general waste is excluded, as that can be disposed of through your standard trash. 

types of biomedical waste

Hazardous Waste 

Hazardous waste is regulated by the EPA and designated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Currently, there are over 400 items that fall under this designation. 

Biomedical waste becomes hazardous if it is ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic. Some examples include contaminated items with highly communicable diseases, sharps, blood and bodily fluids, and cultures and microbiological specimens. 

Infectious Waste

Infectious waste is another regulated biomedical waste category. An item falls under an infectious waste designation if it poses a risk of transmitting an infection to a human or another animal. 

Types of waste that fall under this designation often include, blood soaked materials or blood and blood components like plasma and serum, pathological waste, certain human bodily fluids like amniotic or cerebrospinal fluids, used sharps, laboratory waste, and animal waste. 

Radioactive Waste 

Radioactive waste is most commonly produced during chemotherapy treatments, but can also be produced in other nuclear medicine practices like mammography or CT scans. Within radioactive waste, there’s a breakdown between trace waste and bulk waste


Sharps waste makes up the most complicated category of biomedical waste, as what a sharp is used for can change its waste classification. However, regardless of its specific waste classification, sharps waste should always be placed in a sharps container. 

Sharps used in standard medical procedures generally fall under hazardous waste. However, if they’re used in chemotherapy treatment, they will likely need to be treated as radioactive sharps and placed in a specific radioactive sharps container. 

Sharps that come into contact with infectious waste must be treated as infectious waste, and so on. 

Biomedical Waste Disposal Process

How biomedical waste gets handled is dependent on its designation, but for medical practices, it generally falls into placing things in the right bins. Each bin for a waste designation should have a specific color, and for sharps waste, that bin must be puncture proof. 

For biomedical waste that falls under a regulated category outlined above, the waste must be disposed of using a certified medical waste company. Depending on the type of the waste, the waste company will either use autoclaving or incineration to sterilize the waste, and then take the sterilized waste to a designated landfill. 

Biomedical Waste Disposal with Medical Waste Pros

Medical Waste Pros partners with a nationwide network of waste disposal providers who are experts in all types of medical waste. Give us a call at (888) 755-6370, or fill out the form on the page, and we’ll find your organization a fully compliant and affordable medical waste disposal solution in just minutes.