Proper Disposal of Regulated Waste: A Guide to Containers and Methods

Disposing of waste like your discarded food or recycling generally takes little thought, recycling in the blue, garbage in the other. However, waste is quite regulated. The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has ample rules to govern and regulate waste disposal to protect the environment and the community. It may seem that breaking these rules is relatively inconsequential. Yet, the discovery of violations will be subjected to hefty fines by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), so you must have a good understanding of the regulations to safeguard your community and practice. This blog outlines the medical waste boxes your business needs to use to ensure compliance with OSHA’s strict regulations.

Regulated Medical Waste

OSHA standards define regulated waste as
“liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Also, contaminated items that would release blood or OPIM in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed; items that are caked with dried blood or OPIM and are capable of releasing these materials during handling; contaminated sharps; and pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or OPIM.”
If your waste meets and of these criteria, dispose of it in a closeable, anti-leak, and labeled or color-coded accordingly container to ensure safety of the handlers in the waste-disposal process.

Disposal of blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (

MedPro Disposal also provides a Mail Back Medical/Sharps Waste Disposal Kit to ensure that all precautions and criteria are safely met and handled by professionals for all sharps and miscellaneous medical waste.

Sharps Disposal – MedPro Disposal

Medical Waste Disposal – MedPro Disposal

Pharmaceutical Waste

Controlled pharmaceutical waste

Controlled pharmaceutical waste is a type of hazardous waste that includes expired, unused, or contaminated medications. It can be harmful to human health and the environment if it is not disposed of properly.

There are two proper ways to dispose of controlled pharmaceutical waste.

1. Use MedPro Disposals’ Mail Back Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Kit to ensure that all precautions and criteria are safely met and handled by professionals.

a.Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Services | MedPro Disposal

2.Take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility equipped to safely handle and dispose of hazardous waste.

Non-controlled pharmaceutical waste

Non-controlled pharmaceutical drugs do not appear on the DEA controlled substances schedules and are not regulated by the agency. However, they are still regulated by the EPA once expired. This link will take you to a partial list of non-controlled/non-hazardous waste items.

MedPro Disposal Pharmaceutical Mailback Solution

DO NOT flush pharmaceutical waste down the toilet or drain.

DO NOT throw your pharmaceutical waste in the trash.

DO NOT mix with biohazardous waste.

Any violations of pharmaceutical / hazardous waste disposal regulations may be subject to civil ($27,500 per day) or criminal penalties ($50,000 per day and up to 5 years in jail).

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste disposal is often the most overlooked waste disposal and consequently it is the most dangerous and leads to the most fines. Hazardous waste is anything that may be infectious, toxic, or radioactive. In the United States, biohazard waste management is regulated by the EPA and OSHA, with the CDC providing additional guidelines on proper management.

The first step in handling biohazard waste is to segregate the various types and place them into suitable containers. This can be done as follows:

• Non-hazardous material or general healthcare waste should be separated from biohazard waste and can be discarded with the rest of the non-hazardous material.

• If non-hazardous waste is mixed with hazardous waste, then the entire mixture should be considered hazardous and dealt with accordingly.

• Sharps must be placed in puncture-proof, tamper-proof containers. Typically, the container is made of metal or a high-density plastic but dense cardboard with plastic lining can also work. Sharps containers must not be overfilled so the general rule is that once these containers are three quarters (3/4) full, they should be removed.

• Infectious waste is placed in leak-proof plastic bags / containers that are suitable for the type of material and that bear the international infectious substance symbol:

• Large quantities of obsolete or expired pharmaceuticals can be returned to pharmacies for disposal. If the pills or drugs have spilled, leaked, or have been contaminated, they should be put into containers separate from other biohazard waste and labelled accordingly.

• Large quantities of chemical waste must be collected in a container that resists reaction with the type of chemical it hosts, labelled accordingly, never mixed with other chemicals, and sent to specialized treatment facilities (if available).

• A high content of heavy metals (like cadmium and mercury) has to be stored separately.

• Aerosol cans may be classified as non-hazardous if they are empty and provided the general healthcare waste is not being sent for incineration.

• Cytotoxic waste, that which has a toxic effect on living cells, must be gathered in strong, leak-proof containers that are clearly labelled as cytotoxic waste. These must also be stored completely separately from other types of biohazard waste.

• Highly radioactive waste must be sealed in a lead box that is labelled and bears the international ionizing radiation symbol:

All containers’ labels should include a clear description of the waste contained therein along with the appropriate internationally recognized symbols, the quantity of the waste (weight or volume), the name of the facility or organization that generated the waste, and the date of the container’s production; and the labels should comply with all regulations of their local districts and all other applicable regulations. Also, as a general rule, waste bags should only be three quarters (3/4) filled. They should be sealed tightly, and never by stapling, suitable for transport to wherever their final destination, considering all environmental aggressors and normal conditions of handling & transport and some contingencies.

Biohazard waste should never be allowed to accumulate by the producer of the waste without a well-established plan for routine collection. Waste should be collected as frequently as possible. No containers should be picked up unless they are properly and completely labelled. The staff of the facility / organization that generated the biohazard waste should promptly replace containers, so their own staff always follow safe practices when dumping the waste. And in addition to proper labelling, all arrangements and preparation for safe and steady transport should be made well in advance – dispatch documents, shortest route, fewest handling changes, reliable carrier, and in the case of exportation / importation, all required legal documents, international standards, and local regulations.


Waste is more complicated than just recycling and garbage. However, with due diligence and professional advice and help it’s much easier than it initially seems. MedPro Disposal is here to help your business dispose of everything with proper care and regulations to help keep your business safe from fines and penalties.

Medical Waste Disposal and Compliance Training Services | MedPro Disposal


Disposal of blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (

Safe management of wastes from health-care activities: 7 – Handling, storage, and transportation of health-care waste.  World Health Organization.  Retrieved from WHO

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