Pop Quiz: What 5 Types of Waste NEVER Go in a Red Bag?

Posted by Selin Hoboy on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 @ 07:30 AM

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If you thought any type of waste can go into the red medical waste bag, you might be surprised. Read on for five waste categories that should never go in a red bag.


  1. Loose Sharps Waste

    Any object contaminated with a pathogen or that may become contaminated with a pathogen through handling or during transportation and also capable of cutting or penetrating skin or packaging material. Sharps include needles, syringes, scalpels, broken glass, culture slides/dishes, broken capillary tubes, broken rigid plastic and exposed ends of dental wires. These types of wastes should be placed in rigid sharps containers prior to being placed in regulated medical waste containers. Read “Sharps Containers: 8 Questions to Ask Before You Buy” 
  2. RCRA and Non-RCRA Pharmaceutical Drug Waste

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA) mandates proper disposal of any drug meeting the criteria for being a hazardous waste. As a best practice, non-RCRA hazardous pharmaceuticals are encouraged to be disposed of via incineration at an appropriate, approved facility. Read “5 Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Best Practices” for more information on drug disposal segregation.
  3. Solid and Universal Waste

    Solid waste, also known as municipal solid waste, trash or garbage, includes items such as food scraps, product packaging, and furniture. Batteries, light bulbs, and mercury-containing devices are considered Universal Waste. Some of these items can be reused or recycled, but they should not be discarded in the red bag.
  4. Unmarked Pathological and Trace Chemotherapy Waste

    Pathological waste includes any human or animal body parts, organs, tissues and surgical specimen. While this particular type of waste also goes in a red bag, it must be specially marked and identified for incineration.

    Trace chemotherapy waste is defined as vials or other containers that have less than 3% of the original contents by weight, after removing as much of the chemotherapy as possible. This type of waste includes RCRA empty drug vials, syringes and needles, spill kits, IV tubing and bags, contaminated gloves and gowns and related materials as defined in applicable laws, rules, regulations or guidelines. Trace chemo waste may go in red bags but MUST be appropriately marked for incineration. It is important to check with your local state regulations for further details/requirements.

    Bulk chemotherapy should NEVER be placed with regulated medical waste. Learn more about pharmaceutical disposal.
  5. Bulk Liquids

    Bulk liquids cannot be placed into red bags. However, solidifiers may be used to solidify the liquid and allow for red beg disposal. First, be sure to verify that particular liquid is viable for red bag disposal. Smaller quantity liquids (such as blood tubes or vials) are ok so long as they are properly stoppered.

Be sure to visit MyStericycle.com for further information on proper waste segregation practices and trainings.

Visit the Online Store at MyStericycle.com for all your packaging needs including: properly colored bags and containers for soft waste, sharps, drug and trace chemo waste.

Need help with your medical or RCRA-hazardous waste disposal? Call us at 1.866.783.7422

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Topics: Pharmaceutical Disposal, Medical Waste Disposal, Red Bag Medical Waste, Red Medical Waste Bag

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