Trash removal is not a simple matter of arranging for hauling services when the trash is biohazardous. Biohazardous materials include medical waste, such as viral discharge, blood, needles, and other sorts of biological by-products of medical procedures. Hospitals are the largest producers of biohazardous waste in the country.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines biohazardous, or infectious, waste as anything that may be contaminated with pathogens that can expose others to infectious diseases. This type of waste is regulated by law, so any company that produces biohazardous waste cannot simply arrange for trash services to remove it. Regulated waste must be disposed of according to the law, or else the waste producer risks criminal liability.
Producers of regulated waste are the ones solely responsible for the proper disposal of the waste, not the municipality or any other government agency. They can contract with waste disposal companies for hauling and processing, but the waste producer remains responsible from the point the waste is generated until it is properly retired. In choosing how to proceed, the waste producer must comply with the law’s pathogens standards.
Biohazardous waste must be bagged, tagged, and labeled according to the OSHA regulations. Regulated waste must be placed in special red bags or containers that clearly indicate that the contents are biohazardous. Anything that can cut or puncture, called a sharp, must be placed in a puncture-proof container. Once the waste is segregated, classified, labeled, and contained, the waste producer has the option of how to arrange removal and disposal.
Many biohazardous waste producers try to keep as much regulated waste out of the solid waste stream through recycling. This process recycles equipment that can be effectively sterilized and reused through a procedure called autoclaving. Waste that cannot be recovered in this way is broken down and buried in a landfill, typically by contracting hauling services. Biological waste is incinerated.