save money with proper classification of medical waste

Classification of Medical Waste

Make sure your staff knows exactly what kinds of medical waste your practice produces and how to handle each type of waste stream to keep the medical waste disposal process running smoothly and stay in compliance. Proper collection and segregation can help guarantee that you do not mix medical waste into the wrong stream or fail to comply with state or federal guidelines and regulations. We’ve put together a handy list for quick reference to make proper classification of medical waste a smooth process for your medical practice.

Classification of Medical Waste: Red Containers

Red Sharps Container

  • Needles & Syringes
  • Blades & Lancets
  • Razors & Scalpels
  • Broken glass
  • Glass pipettes & tubes
  • Microscope slides
  • Staples & Wires
  • Disposable suture sets

Bottom Line: Any other contaminated sharp items

Red Container or Red Liner in Container

  • Blood, blood products, and other potentially infectious material
  • Saturated or soiled disposable items such as gauze, dressings, gloves, clothing
  • Containers, catheters or tubes with blood or blood products
  • Dialyzers and tubing
  • Tissues and small pathology waste
  • Used culture plates, tubes, bottles, and devices
  • Blood and body fluid spill cleanup materials

Bottom Line: Anything contaminated with biohazardous waste that does not go in a Sharps Container

Classification of Medical Waste: Yellow Containers

Yellow Container (or a container marked as Trace Chemo)

Trace contaminated chemotherapy waste generated in the preparation & administration of antineoplastic/cytotoxic drugs

  • Gowns
  • Gloves
  • Masks
  • Barriers
  • IV tubing
  • Empty bags/bottles
  • Empty drug vials

Bottom Line: All trace chemotherapy waste

Classification of Medical Waste: Black Containers

Black Container (RCRA Hazard) or a drum labeled hazardous

  • Certain pharmaceuticals (D, U & P Listed)
  • Antineoplastic waste
  • Radioactive waste
  • Mercury-filled devices, batteries, blood pressure cuffs & gauges, thermometers
  • Chemicals such as xylene, formaldehyde, formalin, acetone, toluene, mercury, fixatives, and alcohol
  • Disinfectants & chemical sterilizing agents

Bottom Line: All RCRA hazardous waste

Classification of Medical Waste: Blue Containers

Blue or Green Container (Pharmaceutical) or a container marked as non-hazardous

  • Pills, antibiotics, and injectables.

Bottom Line: All categories of pharmaceuticals not D, U or P Listed

It’s important to know what kind of medical waste your practice produces in order to determine the proper disposal process. Medical waste segregation doesn’t have to be costly and time consuming. Proper classification of medical waste can streamline the process and save you time and money.

Not sure if you are properly classifying your waste? Download our free, printable waste handling guide to check.


Simplify your job and stay up-to-date on medical and hazardous waste compliance for healthcare and industry.

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