What is “medical waste” or “potentially infectious” material?

The Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 broadly defined medical waste as any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals. It excluded hazardous waste and household waste. Specifically, the law stated that medical waste included, but was not limited to, the following: – Items that are freely dripping liquid or semi-liquid blood or “potentially infectious materials” or could readily release infectious materials if compressed – Items containing dried blood or “potentially infectious materials” that could release flakes if compressed or otherwise handled – Human blood and blood products, including serum, plasma, and blood components – Hemodialysis waste of all items that were in contact with the patient’s blood (tubing, filters, towels, gloves, aprons, lab coats) and any other contaminated disposable equipment)* – Human or animal isolation wastes (blood, excretion, exudates, secretions, and items contaminated with these) from humans or animals that have been isolated to protect others from communicable diseases* – Sharps waste – Surgery or autopsy tissue, organs, or body parts (e.g., adenoids, appendix, tonsils, amputated digits, hands, feet, arms or legs), also known as pathological wastes – Surgical and autopsy wastes (e.g., soiled dressings, sponges, drapes, lavage tubes, drainage sets, under-pads, and surgical gloves) that were in contact with infectious agents* – Cultures or stocks of any virus, bacterium or other organism including discarded live attenuated vaccines and the items used to transfer, inoculate or mix cultures – Tissues, organs, body parts, bedding, carcasses, and body fluids from experimental animals that were exposed to infectious agents – Teeth in dentistry – Laboratory wastes that have been in contact with infectious wastes, including gloves, coats and aprons* – Discarded medical equipment and its components that have been in contact with infectious agents* – Any other discarded item or waste that an administrator believes poses a threat to human health or the environment – Potentially infectious body fluids (see next FAQ) *Administrators may choose NOT to define these as medical waste if they determine that an item does not pose a current or future hazard to human health or the environment when stored, transported, disposed, or improperly managed.

Which body fluids are considered infectious?

– Amniotic fluids – Blood and its components – Cerebrospinal and synovial fluid – Dialysate and dialysis waste – Pericardial and pleural fluid – Peritoneal – Saliva in dental procedures – Semen – Vaginal secretions

In general, the term “biohazard” describes any biological material (i.e., plants, animals, microorganisms, or their byproducts) that may present a potential risk to the health and well-being of humans, animals, or the environment 29 CFR 1910.1030 (g)(1)(i)(A).

What goes in the red bag?

Always check your facility’s policies and procedures and adhere to your specific guidelines. Generally, these DO go into a Capital Waste Solutions’ red bag: – Visibly bloody gloves, plastic tubing, or personal protective equipment (PPE) – Gauze, bandages or other items saturated with blood – Securely closed disposable sharps containers

How do I package my red bag medical waste?

Medical waste generators are legally responsible for packaging their waste.

Step 1: Line your container with the red bag prior to use.

Step 2: Tie the bag when the container is full. – Each bag must be hand-tied by gathering and twisting the neck of the bag.

Step 3: Secure the lid on the container. – Make sure all closure and/or locking mechanisms are engaged. Red bags must not be visible once the container is closed.

Step 4: Check the containers markings. – Ensure that federal markings (biohazard symbol, this-side-up-arrows, regulated medical waste, N.O.S., and UN number) are present. Ensure you’re complying with your individual state regulations.

What goes in the sharps disposal container?

Sharps include, but aren’t limited to, needles, lancets, syringes, broken glass, scalpels, culture slides, culture dishes, broken capillary tubes, broken rigid plastic, and exposed ends of dental wires. Laboratory slides and cover slips contaminated with infectious agents. Our sharps disposal services have a more complete description of sharps waste

How do I package my sharps waste?

Step 1: Place sharps in a puncture-resistant container designed for sharps waste. – Do not allow loose sharps in any waste container other than the sharps container.

Step 2: Securely close the container.

Step 3: Place disposable sharps container inside the regulated medical waste container for pickup and disposal

Am I A Small Quantity Generator(SQG) or Large Quantity Generator(LQG)?

A SQG is defined as a generator of infectious waste with generally three or fewer professionals in practice and generates less than 50 pounds of waste per month.

A LQG is defined as generating more than 50 pounds of waste per month.

What do we do about spills?

Keep a small spill clean-up kit within one hundred feet of any area infectious waste is managed. (not required)

When do LQGs need to send their annual reports in? What do they require?

LQGs, a facility generating more than 50 pounds of waste per month, must submit annual reports no later than 90 days after the calendar year.

The reports must include description of infectious waste, weight of infectious waste, names and addresses of persons transporting the infectious waste and the names and locations being used to dispose of the infectious waste.

What is regulated medical waste?

Regulated medical waste is defined as any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biologicals. It does not include hazardous or radioactive waste.

What is the difference between Infectious Waste and Medical Waste?

Medical waste and infectious waste are the same things but some states and agencies refer to them separately.

How long do I need to keep records of my manifests?

You must keep records of your manifests for at least 3 years.

What goes in the Medical Waste Container?

You should always review your company’s current policies and procedures to identify what qualifies as medical waste. A broad, yet simple, answer to this question is anything that has been in contact with blood or bodily fluids that could potentially cause harm to the environment or population.

What are considered Sharps?

Sharps may include, but are not limited to, needles, syringes, scalpels, slides, cover slips, pipettes and blood tubes. These materials may go through additional handling steps prior to disposal, and Sharps represent the highest potential for injury and exposure. Sharps also include anything which is presently sharp, or has the potential to become sharp (plastic if broken, etc.). Sharps must be packaged in rigid, sealed, puncture-resistant and approved containers prior to being placed in the medical waste container.

What is acceptable Medical Waste?

Each facility generating regulated medical waste should have a written definition of the types of wastes/categories included as part of its regulated medical waste management procedure protocol. The definition should include those waste materials that are included in the definitions of regulated medical waste within applicable Federal, State, County, and Municipal regulations. Regulated medical waste generators should also consider the policies of local solid waste landfills that might exclude certain materials from the landfill, even though they are not regulated as medical waste. Common materials which are typically classified as regulated medical waste include, but are not limited to:

  • Blood & blood products
  • Items saturated with blood or blood products
  • Other body fluids capable of harboring potentially infectious microorganisms and items contaminated with these fluids
  • Cultures and stocks of microbiological agents including tissues fixed in formaldehyde
  • Vaccines
  • Sharps*
  • Other potentially infectious materials
  • Expired medications (Nonhazardous and non-narcotic) **
  • Anatomical wastes (body parts and organs) of humans and animals (small) **
  • Chemotherapy wastes (materials containing trace amounts – no more than 3% by weight of the total capacity of the container – of U-listed chemotherapeutic/cytotoxic agents) **

*Sharps may include, but are not limited to, needles, syringes, scalpels, slides, cover slips, pipettes and blood tubes. These materials may go through additional handling steps prior to disposal, and sharps represent the highest potential for injury and exposure. Sharps also include anything which is presently sharp, or has the potential to become sharp (if broken, etc.). Sharps must be packaged in rigid, sealed, puncture-resistant containers prior to being placed in the transport container (rigid plastic).

 **Expired medications, anatomical parts and chemotherapy wastes are to be segregated and placed in a separate reusable container. These three waste streams may be combined in one reusable container. Either a red or yellow label may be used. These wastes are treated by high temperature incineration. If they are comingled with other medical waste, the entire container must be incinerated.

What is unacceptable to put in the medical waste container?

The following waste materials are not acceptable for inclusion in any regulated medical waste stream. Placement of these materials in a Capital Waste Solutions container may constitute grounds for immediate contract termination and/or assumption of liability for any fines or damages incurred:

  1. Any material not considered Regulated/Infectious Medical Waste or Sharps as defined above.
  1. Any material possessing the characteristics of, or containing materials regulated for, flammability, corrosiveness, reactivity or EP toxicity as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency Regulations for Defining Hazardous Waste in CFR 261.21 through 261.24.
  1. Any material or substance considered hazardous or toxic as defined by applicable federal, state, or provincial laws or regulations.
  1. Any compressed gas cylinders or aerosol containers.
  1. Any materials regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and/or the Department of Transportation as radioactive. However, it should be noted that materials containing the isotopes tritium (H3) or Carbon 14 (C14) having an average value below 0.002 micro curie/gram are not regulated by the NRC, DOT or most state agencies and therefore may be acceptable to place in Capital Waste Solutions containers.
  1. Human heads and torso. Including fetal remains and fetal tissue.
  1. Unacceptable waste will also include medical waste that is inappropriately packaged. See below details under the “Packaging” sections.


For instance: a blood contaminated syringe that contains traces of a radioisotope tagged chemical must first be treated for the radioisotope.

How do I package my Sharps?

Sharps must be placed in a rigid and puncture resistant container. Once the container is full, they have lids that need to be properly sealed to ensure no Sharps fall out of the containers. Once the container is sealed, it may be placed right in the medical waste container inside of a red bag.

*Please note that Sharps may NOT be placed in the medical waste container unless they are in a sharps container. The container reduces the risk of needle sticks. *

What disposal containers do I need and what will you provide?

CWS will provide the 17, 43 and 95-gallon container at no additional cost. Sharps containers may be purchased from your medical supplier or you can contact us for an additional supply quote.

What do I do with non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste that is generated?

Non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste must be stored in a non-hazardous pharmaceutical container. These containers can be transported without a secondary container. Non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste should be segregated from your regular biohazard waste to ensure Incineration disposal. Capital Waste Solutions offers 17 gallon reusable containers if needed.

What if I am under contract with another disposal company?

Please call one of our experienced account executives at 918-477-0100.

How long is your contract?

Since customer service and satisfaction are our main priorities, we like to tailor our agreements to meet each client’s specific needs.

How often do I need to be picked up?

Although laws differ from state to state, most offices will require a pickup once per month or once per week depending on waste generation volumes.  Our compliance experts are standing by to assist you with any questions at 877-597-2389.

Would I be charged if there is no waste to be picked up?

Yes, there will be a charge for all scheduled stops. We are contractually obliged to service your location at the frequency that was requested during account setup. We pick up as scheduled in order to ensure our clients stay in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.  In the event that a schedule change is needed, please contact our customer service department in advance.

Can I put my loose syringes in the bio hazard container you bring?

No you may not. The proper and legal way to dispose of sharps is by putting them in their own approved sharps container. You can get these sharps containers from a variety of providers. Once the sharps container is full you may put that in the regulated medical waste transportation container.  Placing sharps directly into the medical waste transportation container creates a health risk and potential for Department of Health and/or OSHA violations and fines, and will require repackaging and result in additional service charges.

If I call for an extra pick up can I cancel my next one?

Yes, you can but there will be charge for the additional pick up per the contracted rate. By canceling future pickups, you may put your facility out of compliance. We suggest you utilize additional pickups as an interim solution and maintain your scheduled service thereafter. We suggest possibly changing your frequency, or if space permits adding an extra container. Both can easily be done by just calling 877-597-2389.

Billing Questions

What payment options does waste stream solutions accept?

We accept all forms of payments including checks, check by phone, VISA, MASTERCARD, and AMERICAN EXPRESS cards.  Call our customer friendly billing department today to process your payments at 877-597-2389.

Can I make payments online?

Currently we do not accept payments online for the security and privacy of our clients. However, you can make a payment over the phone by calling our billing department at 877-597-2389.  For your convenience you can also download our credit card authorization form here and submit a payment by faxing the form to 918-481-6866 or scanning and emailing the form to info@cwsmed.com

Do you offer emergency services?

If you have an emergency and need a pick up just call us and we will promptly respond to your needs

Do you pick up human tissue, organs or other pathology waste?

Yes. Please contact our office if you plan on placing any of these items in your biohazard containers. They do require special treatment, and will need to be segregated from other waste.

May we put broken glass with blood on it in the container?

All glassware, broken or not, must be placed in an approved sharps container before being placed in the biohazard container. Glass, broken or otherwise, may puncture the red bag liner and even the outer corrugated medical waste container and could very easily harm one of your staff or one of ours. We don’t want that to happen. By placing all glassware in FDA approved sharps containers, you eliminate any risk of injury.

Where do we put the medical waste container, we do not have a place for it?

Your container should be placed somewhere inaccessible to the general public (i.e. a closet, a boiler room, a storage area, etc.). If you need help determining a proper place for disposal, please call our office for help.

Where do we put phlebotomy needles and tubes for drawing blood?

The needle must be placed into an approved sharps, and the tubes may be placed into the biohazard container

What do we have to send from an Isolation patient?

The rule of thumb is to assume everything is contagious, therefore, place anything the patient may have touched or otherwise infected into the container. This includes everything in the patient’s room that cannot be sterilized.

Do we have to send knives & forks from an isolation patient?

Plastic items, sure. If they are metal objects, they may be sterilized in your facility’s sterilization equipment.

What if a cover comes loose on a sharps container?

It must be re-secured and taped shut. Use your best judgement here. If any needle or other sharps become dislodged from the sharps container, your facility will be liable for clean up or injury. If you have questions or concerns, please call our office for help.

What day will you pick up?

Our routes vary. Call our office to discuss pick up options for your area.

What if the waste begins to smell bad, will you come pick it up?

Yes, if possible. It depends on your location and our route schedules, but we will make every effort to help. Odors are often an indicator of improper storage of your waste (hot boiler rooms), the type of waste (tissues and organs), or the frequency of your pick up. If it becomes an issue, please contact our office for help.

Do we have to put the caps back on the needles?

No. NEVER recap the needles. It endangers your health and is not necessary. Simply drop the entire syringe into an approved sharps container.

Do we need stickers on our waste storage room doors?

Yes. Biohazard stickers identify where you keep your waste, and keep unauthorized people out. (not required)

We’re under an agreement now and can’t get out of it for two more years. What options do I have?

As long as you commit to using Capital Waste Solutions medical waste services after your existing contract expires, you’ll have access to the compliance portal immediately. 90 days prior to the expiration date of your contract, CWS will contact you and remind you that it’s time to write a letter of cancellation to your current vendor. CWS will begin their service as soon as the cancellation is completed and the current vendor has closed your account. We will ensure that there will be no gap of service for your medical waste pick-ups.

What’s included with the OSHA Compliance Portal?

Please click here to see what is included.