What is Regulated Medical Waste?

What is Regulated Medical Waste?

When we talk about the “flow” of regulated medical waste (RMW), we’re referring to all the steps involved in the collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal of RMW. Management of the flow process is a serious and complex undertaking, more so in times of crisis such as a pandemic or other catastrophic event.

As a full-service waste collection, treatment, and disposal service for the greater Tennessee Valley area, TriHaz is equipped to quickly adapt to any increases in flow from our customers’ facilities. When necessary, we increase the number of our employees, add shifts, invest in more equipment and containers, and add additional pickups to customers’ schedules so we’re able to efficiently meet needs – all while complying with applicable regulatory requirements.

What is Regulated Medical Waste 

Regulated Medical Waste (RMW), also known as biohazardous or infectious medical waste, encompasses waste generated in medical, research, or dental settings potentially contaminated by blood, bodily fluids, or other infectious materials. This includes sharps waste (needles, scalpels), pathological waste (tissues, organs), microbiological waste (specimen cultures, vaccines), isolation waste from highly communicable diseases, contaminated animal waste, and any liquid or semi-liquid blood and body fluids. The handling, treatment, and disposal of RMW are governed by strict regulations to prevent infection risks, involving processes like autoclaving, incineration, chemical disinfection, and irradiation, ensuring public health and safety through meticulous management practices.

What is Considered Regulated Medical Waste

Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) is any waste generated in healthcare or laboratory settings that is potentially contaminated by blood, bodily fluids, or other infectious materials, posing a risk of transmitting infections. Types of RMW include:

Sharps Waste

Such as needles, scalpels, broken glass, and syringes that can puncture or slice.

Pathological Waste

Including human tissues, organs, and body parts removed during surgery or autopsy.

Microbiological Waste

Laboratory waste containing infectious agents, like specimen cultures, waste from bacteria, viruses, spores production, and discarded vaccines.

Isolation Waste

Waste contaminated with blood, excretions, or secretions from humans isolated to protect others from highly communicable diseases.

Contaminated Animal Waste

Carcasses, body parts, and bedding from animals exposed to pathogens in research or testing.

Liquid or Semi-Liquid Blood and Body Fluids

Unfixed human tissue and body fluids visibly contaminated with blood.

Biological Waste Known to be Contaminated with Infectious Agents

Includes laboratory wastes like discarded specimen containers and devices used in cultures.

What is Not Regulated Medical Waste

Not all waste generated in healthcare and laboratory settings is considered Regulated Medical Waste (RMW). Items that do not risk transmitting infectious diseases are categorized as non-regulated or general medical waste. This includes:

General Office Waste

Paper, wrappers, and other non-contaminated items that are not soaked or caked with potentially infectious blood or bodily fluids.

Food Waste

Leftovers from patient meals and kitchen areas that have not come into contact with infectious agents.

Sanitary Waste

Items used for personal hygiene, such as diapers and sanitary napkins, unless contaminated with infectious materials.

Municipal Solid Waste

Similar to household waste, including non-contaminated gloves, gowns, and masks not used in the direct care of patients.

Recyclable Materials

Non-contaminated packaging materials, bottles, and cans.

Non-Infectious Plastic and Glassware

Items that have not been in contact with infectious agents or have been decontaminated.

How to Mitigate Risk in the Flow Process

Here’s a brief look at how you can reduce risk at every stage of the RMW flow.


The fewer vendors you use to handle your facility’s RMW, the more you can reduce associated costs while protecting employees and patients at the same time. TriHaz’s bundled services are custom solution packages that include medical waste, hazardous waste, and pharmaceutical waste pickup and disposal, as well as secure document destruction. Instead of multiple vendors in multiple trucks who make multiple visits to your facility, you can have all your RMW handling needs met by one provider.


The transportation of RMW is regulated by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 C.F.R., Parts 171-180). The regulations cover what’s required to ensure the safe transport of RMW whether intrastate, interstate, by air, rail, motor vehicle, or other vessels. The HMR requirements also dictate the classification, packaging, hazard communication, and when applicable, security plans for infectious substances. TriHaz’s cradle-to-grave touchpoint process ensures your RMW is on the road when it should be and complies with all regulatory rules.

Treatment and Disposal

The EPA and other state and federal environmental agencies have strict sterilization regulations and standards. They also require manifests and certificates of destruction, which RMW generators must keep on file for a minimum of three years. TriHaz’s state-of-the-art Huntsville, AL medical waste treatment facility meets and exceeds all current regulations and standards, and document storage is easy with a convenient online portal. This helps your facility mitigate the risk of steep fines.

Getting a Handle on Your RMW Flow

TriHaz’s RMW system helps you get RMW disposal right. Our state-of-the-art processes and procedures ensure the smooth handling of all your RMW disposal needs, and they’re flexible enough to handle sudden changes in RMW demand flow. We also offer convenient, free online training with more than 100 training videos and modules designed to help keep your facility and employees safe and protected.

Are you unsure whether your facility’s current waste management plan is fully compliant? A waste audit can help. TriHaz offers a free consultation to assess your existing processes and procedures. We can also help you create a custom, comprehensive program that includes waste reduction and cost savings opportunities. To learn more about how to keep your facility compliant and safe during changes in demand flow for RMW, get in touch with us today.


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