Sharps Container Disposal – The Definitive Guide

Dr. Intan Airlina

By Dr. Intan Airlina
Updated: Aug 2020

sharpdisposal

Before you injure yourself or before you hire a bad disposal company, read this guide and AVOID getting Hepatitis B or making any expensive mistakes.

As a Medical Doctor (MD) and expert in sharps container disposal, I created this “Definitive Guide” to answer all your questions about: risks, proper disposal methods, disposal regulations, and container purchasing, selection and evaluation.

#1 What goes in a sharps container and what doesn’t?

Before we can go into the proper disposal of sharps and sharps containers, let’s briefly go into what actually goes into a sharps container, and what does NOT

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), here is a list of what goes and does NOT go into sharps containers:

What goes IN a sharps container?
Needles, syringes, lancets Vacutainer tubes
Phlebotomy needles Capillary tubes
IV Catheters Dental anesthetic capsules with blood, dental wires and endodontic files

 

What goes does NOT a sharps container?
Infectious waste Discarded PPE
Expired pills Medication aerosols and inhalers
Hazardous Bulk Meds Unused drugs and vaccines

You may be thinking “why should I bother?”

#2 What are the risks to improper sharps disposal?

Sorry to disappoint our Walking Dead fans, but improper disposal of sharps containers won’t be the cause of the Zombie Apocalypse in America because of our stringent regulations, laws, and guidelines.

But you can do put yourself and others at serious risk…

sharps_container_disposal_photo

Getting jabbed with a used needle could result in contracting a blood borne virus (BBV) such as Hepatitis or even HIV. According to the:
1.   FDA, up to 850,000 people are injured every year by sharps.
2.   WHO (World Health Organization), 32% new Hepatitis B infections occur due to improper disposal of contaminated syringes.

If that doesn’t convince you to store and dispose of your sharps correctly, I don’t know what will!
You may be sorry if you don’t read this…

#3 How to Safely Dispose of Sharps Containers

The safe disposal of sharps procedure begins with placement of all needles and other sharps in a disposal container immediately after use.
Proper sharps disposal also entails storing the container in a safe location, and keeping sharps and disposal containers far out of reach of children and pets.

The OSHA sharps container height recommendations outline (more regulations are section 4) that the ideal standing installation height for a fixed sharps disposal container is 52 to 56 inches.

9 Sharps “Do NOTs”

We get a lot of FAQs like:

  1. Can I throw my sharps in the regular trash?
  2. Are sharps containers reusable?
  3. What do you do with a sharps container when it’s full?

So we summarized the following 9 “do NOTs” from FDA and CDC guidelines to help keep yourself, children, sanitation workers, and others safe from needle stick injuries.

  • Do NOT throw loose sharps in the trash.
  • Do NOT put sharps in recycling bins.
  • Do NOT flush sharps down the toilet.
  • Do NOT keep sharps containers where children can reach them.
  • Do NOT use glass bottles, plastic water bottles, milk jugs or cartons, or soda cans as do-it-yourself sharps containers.
  • Do NOT fill sharps containers past the fill line or three-quarters (3/4) full, and don’t force needles inside.
  • Do NOT Put your sharps into the container immediately after use.
  • Do NOT bend or break needles.
  • Do NOT recap others’ needles; if you don’t have a sharps container, you may want to carefully recap your own needles.

Please be safe, and throw all your sharps into a proper sharps container.

 

 

FAQ: How to open a sharps container?

We often get asked questions around how to open a sharps container or how to open a locked sharps container.

Generally, it is a bad idea to open a sharps container for any reason, as it could result in cuts and needle sticks.

Still you want to open your sharps container?

Again, I recommend you avoid opening them for any reason!

But, if you absolutely need to retrieve something accidentally locked in a container, you can sometimes unlock them with a screwdriver.

There’s a very good reason these containers have been made very difficult to open, because they’re meant to stay closed! Just like how pharmaceutical companies make pill containers hard to open for children, they’ve made sharps containers hard to open for adults because there is a huge risk of serious injury.

FAQ: How do I dispose of a full sharps container?

What should be done when a sharps container is full?

Do not wait until the container is completely full.

Here’s why: Overfilling a disposal container increases the risk of accidental needle-stick injury.

Dispose of your container when it is about three-quarters (3/4) full.

 

sharps_disposal_graphic sharps_container_image

 

FAQ: How long can I keep a sharps container?

Most sharps containers do not have an expiration date and as long as the sharps container remains durable and sealed, it should be fairly safe to keep the container until the proper disposal time.

A sharps container should be replaced when it is at the fill line or two-thirds (3/4) full. However, we recommend disposing of a sharps container even if it’s half (1/2) full because this will ensure safety of you and everyone around you.

When at home you usually throw out the trash every week right?

We recommend that you have your sharps container removed at least quarterly. You never want to experience the pungent smell of death that comes from a sharps container that’s gone bad.

Now you’re probably asking yourself…

#4 Where Can I Dispose of Sharps Containers?

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Where you dispose of sharps usually depends on whether it’s a sharps disposal for your home or organization.
Home Sharps Container Disposal
For home sharps disposal, it’s important to check for information specific to your state, as almost every state and local government has its own regulations and guidelines to provide the best way to dispose of it.

In general, there are two important steps to prepare your sharps containers for drop-off:

  1. Ensure your sharps containers are labeled correctly
  2. Secure the lid of the disposal container in the appropriate manner per local guidelines

If you’re unsure about how to dispose of sharps containers at home, it is sometimes possible to drop-off your residential sharps disposal at a local

  • Pharmacy
  • Collections site
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Hospitals
  • Health departments
  • Medical waste facilities
  • Police or fire station

Personal sharps container disposals at these locations may be FREE or have a nominal fee.

However, I almost always recommend using an external pick up service for your sharps container disposal because sharps disposal drop-off can be

  • Time-consuming and confusing
  • Even more expensive than using an external company for easy, stress-free pick up

You get what you pay for.

Sharps Disposal for Businesses

Before you hire a sharps container disposal company, read “top companies” section below and AVOID the MISTAKES of locking into a multi-year contract with the wrong company, which could cost you years of paying up to 83.6% more, unreliable and inconsistent pick-ups, and OSHA or HIPPA trouble from an amateur hauler…

#5 Top Sharps Container Disposal Companies

Are you looking for a top sharps container disposal company?
Look no further. We’re it.
We’re affordable, reliable, and 100% compliant.
Our job is to provide you with the highest quality sharps container disposal at the right price, while remaining completely in federal and state regulations.
In addition, for some cases, performing a shredding for biomedical waste needed as an aid for incineration process.

Relax while we take care of your sharps disposal, so you’ll never have to worry about it again!

Request a Quote in 10 Seconds!

#6 Sharps Container Disposal Locations Near Me

Texas Sharps Container Disposal (TX)
California Sharps Container Disposal (CA)
Florida Sharps Container Disposal (FL)
Louisiana Sharps Container Disposal (LA)
New York Sharps Container Disposal (NY)
Illinois Sharps Container Disposal (IL)
Connecticut Sharps Container Disposal (CT)
New Jersey Sharps Container Disposal (NJ)
Pennsylvania Sharps Container Disposal (PA)
Ohio Sharps Container Disposal (OH)
Georgia Sharps Container Disposal (GA)
North Carolina Sharps Container Disposal (NC)
Michigan Sharps Container Disposal (MI)
Virginia Sharps Container Disposal (VA)

Washington Sharps Container Disposal (WA)
Arizona Sharps Container Disposal (AZ)
Massachusetts Sharps Container Disposal (MA)
Tennessee Sharps Container Disposal (TN)
Indiana Sharps Container Disposal (IN)
Missouri Sharps Container Disposal (MO)
Maryland Sharps Container Disposal (MD)
Houston Sharps Container Disposal
San Antonio Sharps Container Disposal
Dallas Sharps Container Disposal (TX)
Austin Sharps Container Disposal
Fort Worth Sharps Container Disposal
Los Angeles Sharps Container Disposal
Chicago Sharps Container Disposal

#7 Sharps Container Disposal Regulations

Federal agencies that regulate medical waste and sharps container disposal include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the OSHA, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance, but has no formal regulations.

All medical waste producers are legally responsible for their sharps container disposal as per “The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000, which mandates healthcare professionals to maintain exposure control plans to minimize the potential for sharps related accidents, such as needle sticks.

Brief History of Regulated Sharps Disposal in America:
In 1988, a famous act namely Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) was addressed to handle the disposal of medical waste and sharps in coastal areas. A two-year program was implemented in the affected areas (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico). This act expired on June 21, 1991.

During that time, EPA gathered all information and performed medical waste related studies and together with MWTA, they managed to look at several treatment technologies that were available at that time involving incinerators, microwave units, and several varieties of mechanical and chemical systems that can be used for reducing the waste. This resulted in a different local regulation of medical waste and sharps management implemented in each state, such as Medical Waste Management 2015, one of the recent regulations for California State.

Sharps Container Disposal Regulations According to

 

FDA Safe Sharps Disposal Regulations

Currently, Federal law doesn’t provide a clear definition of medical waste and sharps. Usually, individual state health departments create sharps container disposal regulations to identify which wastes require special management and disposal processes.

Their website currently does offer a FDA Gov Safe Sharps Disposal Guideline document outlining proper use of FDA approved sharps disposal containers, and FDA sharps disposal best practices.

FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers are usually available at drug stores, medical supply companies, health care providers and can be purchased online. These containers are made of puncture-resistant plastic with leak-resistant material and tight fitting, puncture-resistant lid.

CDC Sharps Disposal Regulations

The CDC sharps disposal guidelines are aligned with those of the FDA. The CDC’s website offers some good resources developed to help healthcare facilities prevent needlesticks and other sharps-related injuries to healthcare personnel.

EPA Sharps Disposal Regulations

The EPA website offers safety guidelines for the disposal of home sharps along with their recommendations for needle disposal options.

OSHA Sharps Container Regulations

Let me guess…by now, all of these regulations are making your head spin!

If you need help understanding, The OSHA sharps disposal guidelines are communicated in their Bloodborne Pathogens and NeedleStick Prevention Standard requirements provide a nice summary of how you can best manage sharps disposal safety.

OSHA’s “Bloodborne Pathogens Standard was revised to reflect the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, and states:

“All employers who have employees with reasonably anticipated occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) must implement the applicable requirements set forth in the standard… will apply to non-healthcare as well as healthcare activities.”

You can read more about the specific requirements on OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

State Regulations for Sharps Disposal

To make things a little more confusing most of the 50 states have some form of sharps disposal regulations which slightly vary state to state!

Unlike hazardous waste regulations, which are all based on the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) standards, the medical waste and sharps container disposal regulations by state vary a great deal.

Generally, the state EPA holds the prime responsibility for developing and regulating sharps container disposal practices. However, in some states (e.g. Missouri and Oklahoma) the department of health plays a leading role or serves as a primary regulatory agency (e.g. Colorado). Often the department of health is responsible for onsite management and an environmental agency takes care of transportation and disposal.

The majority of states have regulations for packaging, storage, and transportation of medical waste and sharps. Others require health care facilities to register and obtain a permit.

State Sharps Disposal Regulations

For full details on sharps container disposal by state, click on the links below to visit each state’s government regulations:

#9 Selecting, Evaluating, and Using Sharps Containers

First off, “what are sharp disposal containers”?

“A sharps disposal container is made from durable plastic used to safely get rid of needles and various sharp medical instruments, like IV catheters and disposable blades used in medical procedures. In the United States they’re usually red in colour, other parts of the world they can be found in a yellow color also.”

Both the FDA and CDC have written guidelines to recommend the structure of sharps bins used for disposal. Here are some best practices to follow when selecting and installing a sharps container:

  • The sharps container must be placed somewhere visible, ideally at eye-level.
  • The container should be located in an area free of obstacles.
  • The container should be big enough to accommodate the quantity of sharps produced in the area.
  • The container should be well-sealed and fully leak-proof, ideally made of heavy plastic and clearly labelled as a sharps container.
  • The sharps container needs to be fully anchored and stabilized to prevent any movement.
  • The container should remain upright during use.
  • Filled only to 3/4 of its capacity, fortunately most sharps containers’ have “filled” line to make it easy to know when you’ve reached 3/4. Once you reach 3/4 then it’s time to replace the container.

It’s important to select a sharps box for disposal that is well-sealed and leak-proof to fully contain all sharps and adequately safeguard people who handle the waste, and are not harmful to the environment.

What is NOT a “sharps container”?

Naturally, by now you realize what a sharps container is, you know to refrain from putting sharps in an unregulated garbage container (regular trash can) and the recycling bin.

However, to the medical professional, it’s important to know the difference between a sharps container and a medical waste disposal container. We’ve created this handy chart to help you understand the difference and where to put your medical waste into the appropriate medical waste container – it’s like sorting recycling at home, but way more hazardous!

#10 Where Can I Buy a Sharps Disposal Container?

If you’re an organization then your medical supply company will provide you the sharps containers you need.

However, you’re an at home sharps user and looking for where you can get a sharps disposal container, they are now easily available for purchase online. Sharps disposal containers can be purchased on Amazon in a variety of styles and sizes.

All clear? Other places where you can get a sharps container are generally pharmacies and and through health care providers.

#11 Mail-In Sharps Disposal

A variety of companies offer mail-back sharps disposal programs (like CVS, which is featured in image above). These generally are only suitable for residential, small scale and rural use

The general process to mail your sharps container disposal is:

  • Use your sharps
  • Place sharps into a container
  • Insert container into a prepaid box
  • Fill out a form
  • Mail the box back to the disposal company

A mail in program is relatively easy to use, and most come with prepaid postage (CVS’s costs extra) and is compliant with all Federal, State, and United States Post Office regulations and standards.

BONUS: Sharps Disposal Poster

Is it a crazy idea to share our sharps disposal poster online and via email our sharps disposal poster? No because doing so will help prevent needlestick injuries.

Proper Sharps Disposal Poster

PDF Printer Version (please print off)

What are sharps disposal containers?

A sharps disposal container is made from durable plastic used to safely get rid of needles and various sharp medical instruments, like IV catheters and disposable blades used in medical procedures. Sharps disposal containers are usually sealed and self-lock, stopping waste from entering or causing damage to the sides of the container. In the United States, sharps disposal containers are red in color and stamped with a biohazard symbol. In other parts of the world, these containers are yellow. Once sharps waste fills the container three-quarters full, the containers are then disposed of or emptied out.

sharp-disposal-containers

sharp-container-produced

Why We Need To Manage The Sharps Container Disposal In The Right Way?

There are several reasons to manage the sharps container disposal in an appropriate way:

Health – Nobody wants to see blood drops on the floor when they walk into hospital visiting a sick friend because the risk of being infected by any number of diseases
Infection risk – the risk of infection obtained from sharp injuries can lead to infection
Environment pollution – The risk of air, water and soil pollution directly from waste due to defective incineration or autoclaving can be harmful.

The biomedical waste treatment and sharps disposal need to be in complete management to ensure the safety of the workplace and maintain our health. If you maintain the safety process correctly, it will:

  • Effectively reduce your legal liability
  • Reducing the danger to the community, personnel and patients
  • Keep your reputation high

The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has an established procedure for dealing with biomedical waste hazards that can minimize our risk with contaminated articles. Thus, we at BioMedical Waste Solutions, LLC, use OHSA standards as our guidance to dispose of the sharps container disposal properly.

Who Is At Risk For Sharps Container Exposure?

People who have the highest risk from sharps containers, for instance, healthcare workers, patients, waste collection and disposal staff, and even our environment. The sharps containers may pose an occupational hazard when managed incorrectly. Therefore, we need special precautions and the well-trained personnel to manage sharps container disposal and keep the risk low.

Our Medical Waste Disposal Services Serve Top States & Cities:

Texas Sharps Container Disposal (TX)
California Sharps Container Disposal (CA)
Florida Sharps Container Disposal (FL)
Louisiana Sharps Container Disposal (LA)
New York Sharps Container Disposal (NY)
Illinois Sharps Container Disposal (IL)
Connecticut Sharps Container Disposal (CT)
New Jersey Sharps Container Disposal (NJ)
Pennsylvania Sharps Container Disposal (PA)
Ohio Sharps Container Disposal (OH)
Georgia Sharps Container Disposal (GA)
North Carolina Sharps Container Disposal (NC)
Michigan Sharps Container Disposal (MI)
Virginia Sharps Container Disposal (VA)

Washington Sharps Container Disposal (WA)
Arizona Sharps Container Disposal (AZ)
Massachusetts Sharps Container Disposal (MA)
Tennessee Sharps Container Disposal (TN)
Indiana Sharps Container Disposal (IN)
Missouri Sharps Container Disposal (MO)
Maryland Sharps Container Disposal (MD)
Houston Sharps Container Disposal
San Antonio Sharps Container Disposal
Dallas Sharps Container Disposal (TX)
Austin Sharps Container Disposal
Fort Worth Sharps Container Disposal
Los Angeles Sharps Container Disposal
Chicago Sharps Container Disposal

New York Sharps Container Disposal
Philadelphia Sharps Container Disposal
San Diego Sharps Container Disposal
San Jose Sharps Container Disposal
Jacksonville Sharps Container Disposal
Phoenix Sharps Container Disposal
Columbus Sharps Container Disposal
Charlotte Sharps Container Disposal
San Francisco Sharps Container Disposal
Indianapolis Sharps Container Disposal
Seattle Sharps Container Disposal
Denver Sharps Container Disposal
Miami Sharps Container Disposal
Boston Sharps Container Disposal

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sharps-disposal

Sharps Container Disposal Top Companies

Are you looking for the sharps container disposal top companies? Look no further. We’re it. We’re affordable, reliable, and 100% compliant. We know that sharps container disposal can be tedious and complicated.

Our job is to provide you with the highest quality sharps container disposal so you remain completely in regulation with sharps and medical waste—on both the federal and local levels.

Low-Cost, Reliable, & Compliant Sharps Container Disposal. Relax while we take care of your sharps disposal, so you’ll never have to worry about it again!

Sharps Container Disposal Costs

How does an organization decide whether to manage sharps disposal in-house (by purchasing machinery) or have an external company take care of disposal?

Purchasing machinery, such as incinerators and autoclaves, can often appear to cost less per lb of sharps disposal. However, the disposal costs of these capital expenditures are usually far out of reach for medium-sized clinics and medical centers.

It is important to consider the additional costs of operating this machinery, which include:

  • Maintenance costs (scheduled maintenance work by an authorized technician)
  • Replacement parts costs
  • Utility costs
  • Training costs for employee use

As an example, steam sterilizers utilize water, steam, and electricity to operate. These costs can add up fast over the course of 20 years. Just the water costs to operate the autoclave can amount to over $100,000!

One of our customers, a hospital, previously had a large on-site autoclave machine onsite which they poured thousands of dollars into for maintenance and replacement parts. They called us when it became obvious that these operating costs far exceeded the cost of using an external disposal company.

Sharps container disposal costs for pick-up vary greatly from state to state and also based on your volume and frequency.

Our cost is up to 83.6% more affordable than Stericycle (America’s largest sharps disposal and medical waste management company).

Sharps Container Disposal Treatment Methods

Incineration is the most commonly used sharps disposal method. Recently, alternative treatment methods are becoming increasingly popular. Choosing a treatment system should be done carefully, on the basis of various factors, many of which depend on local conditions.

Here is a summary of the 5 most common medical waste and sharps disposal treatment methods:

Incineration. A high-temperature dry oxidation process that reduces waste to inorganic, incombustible matter, and results in a very significant reduction of waste volume and weight. This process is usually selected to treat wastes that cannot be recycled, reused, or disposed of in a landfill site.

Wet and dry thermal treatment. A treatment procedure based on the exposure of shredded infectious waste to high-temperature, high-pressure steam, and is similar to the autoclave sterilization process. With sufficient temperature and contact time are sufficient, it inactivates most types of microorganisms.

Irradiative (microwave irradiation). A treatment method where waste is shredded, then humidified and transferred to an irradiation chamber equipped with a series of microwave generators. After irradiation, the waste is compacted inside a container and enters the municipal waste stream

Chemical disinfection. Used routinely in health care to kill microorganisms on medical equipment and on floors and walls, is now being extended to the treatment of health-care waste. Chemicals are added to waste to kill or inactivate the pathogens it contains, usually resulting in disinfection rather than sterilization.

Land disposal. If a municipality lacks the means to treat wastes before disposal, the use of a municipal land disposal site has to be regarded as an acceptable disposal route.

sharps-container-disposal-5-methods

Brief History of Regulated Sharps Disposal in America:

In 1988, a famous act namely Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) was addressed to handle the disposal of medical waste and sharps in coastal areas. A two-year program was implemented in the affected areas (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico). This act expired on June 21, 1991.

During that time, EPA gathered all information and performed medical waste related studies and together with MWTA, they managed to look at several treatment technologies that was available at that time involving incinerators, microwave units, and several varieties of mechanical and chemical systems that can be used for reducing the waste. This resulted in a different local regulation of medical waste and sharps management implemented in each state, such as Medical Waste Management 2015, one of the recent regulations for California State.

Can you throw a sharps container in the garbage?

Sorry to disappoint our Walking Dead fans, but improper disposal of sharps containers won’t be the cause of the Zombie Apocalypse in America because stringent regulations, laws, and guidelines.

Sharps Container Disposal Facilities

Hazardous waste and sharps container disposal facilities receive waste for treatment, storage or disposal. These locations are usually referred to as TSDFs (treatment, storage, and disposal facilities).

Treatment Facilities use several different processes, such as incineration or oxidation, to alter the composition of waste. Some treatment processes allow waste to be recovered and reused for manufacturing, while other treatment methods dramatically reduce the amount of hazardous waste.

Storage Facilities temporarily hold sharps until they are treated or disposed of. Sharps are often stored prior to treatment or disposal, and need to be stored in containers, containment buildings, tanks, drip pads, surface impoundments, or waste piles that comply with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations.

Disposal Facilities are permanent locations where hazardous waste and sharps are stored. The most common types of disposal facilities are landfills, where waste is disposed of in constructed units designed to protect groundwater and surface water resources.

Biohazard Disposal Container

Sharps Container disposal problems

The most common sharps container disposal problems arise when proper disposal procedures are not followed. Improper disposal can lead to serious consequences, putting facility staff, patients, and communities in danger. Not to mention fines, lawsuits, and the loss of reputation that could ruin your business. That is why it’s crucial to pick the right company to help with your sharps container removal. Here are some of the biggest problems with the disposal of sharps.

Lack of Training for Staff

Many facilities fail to fully train all staff on procedures and best practices for sharps disposal. This leads to sharps disposal problems such as waste being placed in the wrong containers, or hazardous materials being flushed down a drain, or thrown in the regular trash.

Every facility with sharps containers should be inspected at regular intervals to ensure proper procedures and training are in place.

Improper or Illegal Dumping of Sharps Containers

Some facilities can generate up a tonne of sharps and medical waste each and every day. Illegal dumping of waste could potentially expose many people to infections and diseases. Disposing of sharps via burning is also a dangerous solution, as toxins can circulate in the air. Simply throwing sharps into the regular trash can also be dangerous for any janitors and the general public. Illegal dumping of sharps can result in huge fines.

The best way to avoid most sharps container disposal problems is to hire a reputable sharps container disposal company, like us, to handle your sharps containers and ensure you remain compliant.

Contact us now for a quote.

correct-disposal-of-your-sharps-container-protects

Conclusion

As you can see from this article, great care goes into disposing of sharps containers, and the way it is disposed is dependent on what category of sharps it is and government regulations. We hope you find it easier to properly dispose of your sharps.

Dr. Intan Airlina is consulting Director of OSHA Compliance for BioMedical Waste Solutions, LLC (www.BioMedicalWasteSolutions.com). She is an Internist that holds an Internal Medicine Degree from University of Indonesia, learned tropical diseases and infection, also certified in patient safety from a Joint Commission International (JCI) and ISO certified hospital.

FREE GUIDE

The Definitive Guide to Medical Waste Disposal

Read this and avoid the mistakes of locking into a multi-year contract that could cost you up to 83.6% MORE EVERY Year.

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Are sharps containers recyclable?

In most states, it’s illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps in the trash or recycling containers. Most states require for all sharps to be disposed of in a certified sharps disposal container at a nearby collection center.

sharp-disposal-recyclable

Why We Need To Manage The Sharps Container Disposal In The Right Way?

There are several reasons to manage the sharps container disposal in an appropriate way:

Health – Nobody wants to see blood drops on the floor when they walk into hospital visiting a sick friend because the risk of being infected by any number of diseases
Infection risk – the risk of infection obtained from sharp injuries can lead to infection
Environment pollution – The risk of air, water and soil pollution directly from waste due to defective incineration or autoclaving can be harmful.

The biomedical waste treatment and sharps disposal need to be in complete management to ensure the safety of the workplace and maintain our health. If you maintain the safety process correctly, it will:

  • Effectively reduce your legal liability
  • Reducing the danger to the community, personnel and patients
  • Keep your reputation high

The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has an established procedure for dealing with biomedical waste hazards that can minimize our risk with contaminated articles. Thus, we at BioMedical Waste Solutions, LLC, use OHSA standards as our guidance to dispose of the sharps container disposal properly.

Who Is At Risk For Sharps Container Exposure?

People who have the highest risk from sharps containers, for instance, healthcare workers, patients, waste collection and disposal staff, and even our environment. The sharps containers may pose an occupational hazard when managed incorrectly. Therefore, we need special precautions and the well-trained personnel to manage sharps container disposal and keep the risk low.

Sharps Container Disposal Regulations

Federal agencies that regulate medical waste and sharps container disposal include the EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance, but not regulation.

Currently, Federal law doesn’t provide a clear definition of medical waste and sharps. Usually, individual state health departments create sharps container disposal regulations to identify which wastes require special management and disposal processes.

Sharps container disposal regulations by State

Most of the 50 states have some form of sharps container disposal regulations in place. Unlike hazardous waste regulations, which are all based on the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) standards, the medical waste and sharps container disposal regulations by state vary a great deal.

Generally, the state EPA holds the prime responsibility for developing and regulating sharps container disposal practices. However, in some states (e.g. Missouri and Oklahoma) the department of health plays a leading role or serves as a primary regulatory agency (e.g. Colorado). Often the department of health is responsible for onsite management and an environmental agency takes care of transportation and disposal.

The majority of states have regulations for packaging, storage, and transportation of medical waste and sharps. Others require health care facilities to register and obtain a permit.

stages-of-sharps-container-disposal

Stages of Sharps Container Disposal
Where do sharps containers go? How are they disposed of? For purposes of this guide, we are going to focus on disposal in the US. Let’s share with you the cautious and special care process in which sharps containers are collected, stored, transported and treated with.

Stage 1 – Collecting & Segregating The biomedical waste and sharps have to be collected in containers that are resilient and strong from breakage during the handling process. Do not place sharps, used needles, syringes, or other contaminated tools in common waste disposal or recycle bins because the entire waste will be infectious by doing so. The segregation also needs to be performed between the liquid and solid biomedical waste products. Categorizing the medical waste with correct segregation to isolate and manage each waste in the proper way. For this purpose, the segregations come in colored waste containers, label coding and plastic bags.

Stage 2 – Storing & Transporting Specific requirements for storage facilities, such as a secure area that is inaccessible to the general public, as well as separated it from areas for food consumption. The storage facilities also have to be accompanied with refrigerator or freezer unit that can be used with medical waste if necessary. Some facilities even provided special vehicles and protective devices to dispose, handling or transport sharps and waste products. Remember to observe and keep maintaining the protective devices periodically so it won’t be a source of transmitting the infections.

Stage 3 – Treatment The needs of professional handling that work according to the by-law regulation such as the OSHA are needed to ensure that the regulated medical waste (RMW) and sharps containers are handled properly. The treatment process will use equipment that ranges from handling, carts, shredding, conveying, size reducing, compactors, to sterilization or recycling. The following equipment is needed to properly process the waste in order to reduce the hazards, and maintain the environment:

  • Carts and containers – commonly used to collect the medical waste and sharps i.e. dumpers, containers, compactors can be used to collect the medical waste
  • Conveyors – this equipment help to segregate the waste
  • Sterilizers – such as: autoclave, shredder, and size redactor
  • Handling the waste – such as: compactors, containers, pre-crushers, and deliquefying system
  • Recycling system – i.e. balers and size reduction equipment

Incineration – Type 1 of Medical Waste and Sharps Treatment The incineration technology used a high temperature thermal process that can convert inert material and gases with the combustion process. It will process the waste to convert into ash, gas, and heat. There are three types of incinerators that are commonly used for biomedical waste and sharps disposal:

  • The Multiple Hearth Type – it has a circular steel furnace that contains solid refractory hearths with a central rotating shaft to convert the waste into ash
  • Rotary Kiln – it is an incinerator, shape like a drum, commonly for medical and hazardous waste
  • Controlled Air – there are two process chambers that will handle the waste. The complete combustion and oxidizing it, leading to a stream of gas with carbon dioxide and water vapor composition. It is commonly used for waste that has organic materials.

In addition, for some cases, performing a shredding for biomedical waste needed as an aid for incineration process.

Before you hire a medical waste disposal company read this and avoid the mistakes of locking into a multi-year contract with the wrong company, which could cost you years of paying up to 83.6% more, unreliable and inconsistent pick-ups, and OSHA or HIPPA trouble from an amateur hauler.

As a Medical Doctor (MD) and expert in medical waste disposal, I created this “Definitive Guide” to answer all your questions about: drop-off (near you), top companies, containers, costs, treatment methods, regulation, facility, and problems.

What Is Medical Waste?

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the definition of medical waste is fairly broad “all waste materials generated at health care facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, dental practices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories.”

It fails to include any organization that produces medical waste such as syringes or needles from their employees or customers, or the home producer for that matter. Medical Waste

How Much Medical Waste Is Produced?

In 2012, the United States spent up to $2.5 billion for the proper disposal of medical waste. Moreover, with annual growth of 4.8%, by 2017 the annual market is expected to $3.2 billion. For instance, consider these medical waste statistics:

In short, almost all healthcare activities related to humans produce medical waste. So, can you imagine the dangers of what would happen if it was disposed of improperly?
much-medical-waste-is-produced

The Epidemiology

(How Often Diseases Occur in Different Groups of People and Why) The Epidemiology WHO (World Health Organization) even mentioned that in 2000, there were 32% new Hepatitis B infections due to improper way of contaminated syringe disposal. In 2002, WHO conducted a research to review 22 countries about their way of medical waste disposal management and resulting various ranges from 18% up to 64% that used improper methods of biomedical waste management.

Dangerous, huh?

Who Are At Risk For Biomedical Waste Exposure?

People who have the highest risk of being the biomedical waste, for instance, healthcare workers, patients, waste collection and disposal staff, and even our environment. The biomedical waste may pose an occupational hazard when managed incorrectly. Therefore, we need special precautions and the well-trained personnel to manage those biomedical wastes and keep the risk low.

Why We Need To Manage The Biomedical Waste In The Right Way?

There are several reasons to manage the biomedical waste in an appropriate way:

  • Health – Nobody wants to see blood drops on the floor when they walk into hospital visiting a sick friend because the risk of being infected by any number of diseases
  • Infection risk – the risk of infection obtained from sharp injuries can lead to infection
  • Environment pollution – The risk of air, water and soil pollution directly from waste due to defective incineration or autoclaving can be harmful.

The biomedical waste treatment and disposal need to be in a complete management to ensure the safety of the workplace and maintain our health. If you maintain the safety process correctly, it will:

  • Effectively reduce your legal liability
  • Reducing the danger to the community, personnel and patients
  • Keep your reputation high

The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has an established procedure for dealing with biomedical waste hazards that can minimize our risk with contaminated articles. Thus, we at BioMedical Waste Solutions, LLC, use OHSA standards as our guidance to dispose the medical waste properly.

Regulated VS Unregulated

Regulated VS Unregulated Medical Waste

Of all the health care waste (HCW) there is essentially two types: Regulated medical waste (RMW) and unregulated medical waste (UMW). Approximately 75% to 90% of HCW is UMW (unregulated) or known as healthcare general waste (HCGW). This waste is similar to typical household waste consisting of papers and plastics that are not been in contact with patients and is categorized as non-infectious. This type of waste is simply disposed in accordance with municipal regulations. Approximately only 10% to 25% of HCW is infectious/regulated medical waste (RMW).

Naturally this RMW has to be handled with special care as we’ll describe below because it could pose a threat to the health of others, either by contaminating the environment or through direct contact with an individual. Easier way to differentiate the two types is to ask yourself “could this waste kill someone or make them sick?” If yes, then this waste is regulated and must be handled with special care.

NOTE: The use of “medical waste”will be regarded as “regulated medical waste” (RMW), unless otherwise stated.

Eight Categories of Medical Waste

It’s important to know what kind of medical waste your facility produces then you can determine the proper disposal. The WHO classified the medical waste into eight (8) categories of medical waste:

  1. Infectious waste – Waste that may transmit infection from virus, bacterial, parasites to human, i.e.: lab cultures, tissues, swabs, equipment and excreta
  2. Sharps – Sharp waste, such as needle, scalpels, knives, blades, etc.
  3. Pathological – Human tissue or fluids i.e. body parts, blood, other body fluids
  4. Radioactive – Unused liquid in radiotherapy or lab research, contaminated glassware, etc.
  5. Chemical – Expired lab reagents, film developer, disinfectant
  6. Pharmaceuticals – Expired and contaminated medicines
  7. Pressurized containers – Gas cylinders and gas cartridges
  8. General waste (UMW) – No risk to human health because no blood or any related bodily fluid, i.e.: office paper, wrapper, kitchen waste, general sweeping, etc.

Because the management for every waste categories are different.

Medical Waste Disposal Drop-Offs (Near You!)

Is the disposal for a residence or an organization?

For Residences

Depending on where you live, it may be possible to take your sharps and medical waste disposal for drop-off at specific collection sites or medical waste facilities. A few of these services are free but most have a nominal fee.

It’s important to check for information specific to your state, as almost every state and local government has its own regulations and guidelines to provide the best way to dispose of it.

In general, there are two important steps to prepare your medical waste disposal for drop-off:

Ensure your sharps containers disposal containers are labeled correctly
Secure the lid of the disposal container in the appropriate manner per local guidelines

For the reasons mentioned above, it is almost always recommended to use an external pick up service for your medical waste disposal. Medical waste disposal drop-off can be time-consuming, confusing, and even more expensive than using an external company for easy, stress-free pick up disposal service.

For Organizations

Considering the numerous federal and Statewide regulations for medical waste disposal, it’s incredibly important for an organization to select a professional medical waste disposal company to deal with their medical waste disposal.

What are the medical waste disposal top companies? Check out our suggestions below.

Medical Waste Disposal Top Companies

Are you looking for the medical waste disposal top companies? Look no further. We’re it. We’re affordable, reliable, and 100% compliant. We know that medical waste disposal can be tedious and complicated.

Our job is to provide you with the highest quality medical waste disposal so you remain completely in regulation with medical waste—on both the federal and local levels.

Low-Cost, Reliable, & Compliant Medical Waste Disposal. Relax while we take care of your medical waste disposal, so you’ll never have to worry about it again!

Affordable-Pricing

Low Cost

Keep costs low with actual fixed rates and no hidden fees. The average organization saves up to 83.6% with us versus Stericycle.

Reliability

Reliable

In just 14 years, we’ve grown to over 10,000+ happy clients because we virtually guarantee timely and reliable pick-ups.

Compliance

Compliant

Compliance with State and Federal laws governing the proper disposal of medical waste is not a choice. It is the law. We have you 100% covered.

Medical waste disposal costs

How does an organization decide whether to manage medical waste disposal in-house (by purchasing machinery) or have an external company take care of disposal?

Purchasing machinery, such as incinerators and autoclaves, can often appear to cost less per lb of waste disposal. However, the medical waste disposal costs of these capital expenditures are usually far out of reach for medium-sized clinics and medical centers.

It is important to consider the additional costs of operating this machinery, which include:

  • Maintenance costs (scheduled maintenance work by an authorized technician)
  • Replacement parts costs
  • Utility costs
  • Training costs for employee use

As an example, steam sterilizers utilize water, steam, and electricity to operate. These costs can add up fast over the course of 20 years. Just the water costs to operate the autoclave can amount to over $100,000!

One of our customers, a hospital, previously had a large on-site autoclave machine onsite which they poured thousands of dollars into for maintenance and replacement parts. They called us when it became obvious that these operating costs far exceeded the cost of using an external disposal company.

Medical waste disposal costs for pick-up vary greatly from state to state and also based on your volume and frequency.

Our cost is up to 83.6% more affordable than Stericycle (America’s largest medical waste management company).

Medical waste disposal treatment methods

Incineration is the most commonly used medical waste disposal treatment. Recently, alternative treatment methods are becoming increasingly popular. Choosing a treatment system should be done carefully, on the basis of various factors, many of which depend on local conditions.

Here is a summary of the 5 most common medical waste disposal treatment methods:

Incineration. A high-temperature dry oxidation process that reduces waste to inorganic, incombustible matter, and results in a very significant reduction of waste volume and weight. This process is usually selected to treat wastes that cannot be recycled, reused, or disposed of in a landfill site.

Wet and dry thermal treatment. A treatment procedure based on the exposure of shredded infectious waste to high-temperature, high-pressure steam, and is similar to the autoclave sterilization process. With sufficient temperature and contact time are sufficient, it inactivates most types of microorganisms.

Irradiative (microwave irradiation). A treatment method where waste is shredded, then humidified and transferred to an irradiation chamber equipped with a series of microwave generators. After irradiation, the waste is compacted inside a container and enters the municipal waste stream

Chemical disinfection. Used routinely in health care to kill microorganisms on medical equipment and on floors and walls, is now being extended to the treatment of health-care waste. Chemicals are added to waste to kill or inactivate the pathogens it contains, usually resulting in disinfection rather than sterilization.

Land disposal. If a municipality lacks the means to treat wastes before disposal, the use of a municipal land disposal site has to be regarded as an acceptable disposal route.

medical-waste-disposal-definitive-guide-infographic2

Brief History of Regulated Biohazardous Waste Disposal in America:

In 1988, a famous act namely Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) was addressed to handle the disposal of medical waste in coastal areas due to numerous medical and household waste throughout several coastal areas, therefore a two-year program was implemented in the affected areas (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico). This act was expired in June 21, 1991.

During that time, EPA gathered all information and performed medical waste related studies and together with MWTA, they managed to look at several treatment technologies that was available at that time involving incinerators, microwave units, and several varieties of mechanical and chemical systems that can be used for reducing the waste. Thus, resulting a different local regulation of medical waste management that was implemented to each state, such as Medical Waste Management 2015, as one of the recent medical waste regulation for California State.

Sorry to disappoint our Walking Dead fans, but improper disposal of medical won’t be the cause of the Zombie Apocalypse in America because stringent regulations, laws, and guidelines. Walking Dead Fans

Medical waste disposal regulations

Federal agencies that regulate medical waste include the EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance, but not regulation.

Currently, Federal law doesn’t provide a clear definition of medical waste. Usually, individual state health departments create medical waste disposal regulations to identify which wastes require special management and disposal processes.

Medical waste disposal regulations by State
Most of the 50 states have some form of medical waste disposal regulations in place. Unlike hazardous waste regulations, which are all based on the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) standards, the medical waste disposal regulations by state vary a great deal.

Generally, the state EPA holds the prime responsibility for developing and regulating medical waste disposal practices. However, in some states (e.g. Missouri and Oklahoma) the department of health plays a leading role or serves as a primary regulatory agency (e.g. Colorado). Often the department of health is responsible for onsite management and an environmental agency takes care of transportation and disposal.

The majority of states have regulations for packaging, storage, and transportation of medical waste. Others require health care facilities to register and obtain a permit for waste.

Legal Disclaimer. This guide and medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for purposes or substitute for proper OSHA training. Please consult your OSHA trained provider, or contact BioMedical Waste Solutions for a consultation, before making any biohazardous waste disposal decisions. BioMedical Waste Solutions , LLC expressly disclaims responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site. If you do not agree to the foregoing terms and conditions, you should not enter this site.

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Legal Disclaimer. This guide and medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for purposes or substitute for proper OSHA training. Please consult your OSHA trained provider, or contact BioMedical Waste Solutions for a consultation, before making any biohazardous waste disposal decisions. BioMedical Waste Solutions , LLC expressly disclaims responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site. If you do not agree to the foregoing terms and conditions, you should not enter this site.

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