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The Lowdown on the Common Types of Biohazardous Waste

Posted by on June 29, 2020 in Technology with 0 Comments

Now more than ever, biohazardous waste and materials need to be disposed of properly. The reality is that biohazardous trash is part of everyday life, especially in the medical field. Whether it's a doctor's office or a hospital, there's biohazardous waste. Moreover, regulated medical trash rears its head in a variety of other industries. Overall, it can pose a risk to the population if it isn't properly disposed of, or if it happens to be released into the environment. Thus, it helps to identify the various types of regulated medical waste and how each class should be properly discarded. With that being said, here are the common types of biohazardous trash—solid, liquid, sharp, pathological, and microbiological waste.

Biohazardous Waste

If you're in the medical field or just familiar with the human body, you have some idea of what biohazardous or regulated medical waste is. Nevertheless, the general definition is any garbage that can or does contain infectious material. As previously mentioned, this can be material waste from hospitals, funeral homes, and doctors’ offices. However, material waste from laboratories, veterinarians, and even tattoo shops, can all be classified as biohazardous rubbish. Byproducts of immunizations, diagnosis, and any objects that have come in contact with organic material or body fluids (from both humans and animals) meet the threshold for regulated medical waste, according to MedPro Disposal and the World Health Organization (WHO).


The most commonly known regulated medical waste is solid biohazardous trash. This particular type of waste is generally any non-sharp material that contains human or animal specimens, including body fluids and tissue. Based on this definition, items like personal protective equipment (PPE), Petri dishes, linens, dishes, pipettes, and towels qualify as solid biomedical garbage.

Disposal Procedures

There are several ways in which you can safely and properly dispose of solid biohazardous trash. Those in the medical field or with access to a biohazardous trash bin typically dispose of solid biomedical waste this way. Biohazardous bins are lined with autoclave bags. These particular bags (which should have a biohazard symbol) allow for autoclaving, a steam sterilization method. The overall process is a combination of steam, time, and pressure.


In contrast, liquid biohazardous garbage is just what it sounds like—any waste containing body fluids, blood, or infectious agents. Nonetheless, a caveat here is that if the liquid waste is less than 25 milliliters, it's classified as solid waste and disposed of via autoclaving.

Disposal Procedures

Liquid waste over 25 milliliters must be disposed of in a leak-proof container. Any container with regulated medical waste must have a biohazard symbol, and be secure enough to prevent any potential spillage. Often, more than one receptacle is used to provide extra safeguards. With an added layer of protection, the liquid biomedical waste is then treated with bleach or via liquid cycle autoclaving. Regarding chemical waste, you should reference the label for suitable disposal processes, first and foremost. Subsequently, triple rinse any containers used to dispose of chemical byproducts, prepare the washed containers for pickup by removing caps/lids, and contact your local Environment, Health, and Safety Department (EHS) for assistance/chemical collection.


Here, sharp biohazardous waste includes any medical device capable of puncturing skin (or a plastic bag), and has come in contact with bio-material that’s potentially infectious. A few examples of “sharps” include scalpels, needles, saw blades, microscope slides, broken glass vials, tattoo needles, and so on. Note that plastic serum pipettes can't puncture the skin, but they can easily tear a hole in a standard plastic bag. Thus, they are also classified as sharps and should be disposed of in the same manner.

Disposal Procedures

The proper disposal procedure of sharps also involves specific/designated collection containers. These sharp biomedical waste collection receptacles are puncture-resistant, leak-proof, and allow for safe handling of dangerous medical devices. Once again, these containers should have the appropriate symbol, so that they can be clearly identified by your local medical waste service provider/contractor.


This common type of regulated medical waste includes both animal and human tissues, organs, and body parts. Since all of these could be potentially infectious, you must follow disposal guidelines.  Biomedical garbage from biopsies, autopsies, and surgeries all fall under this category.

Disposal Procedures

To dispose of pathological waste, healthcare personnel should first double-bag the regulated waste to prevent leaks. Next, the bags containing the waste should be placed into a secondary container, similar to liquid waste. Finally, incineration or other chemical treatments are appropriate for disposal. Remember, you should never try to autoclave pathological biohazardous garbage.


Last but not least, microbiological waste is generally the byproduct of laboratories. Think of specimen cultures and discarded viruses. Microbiological waste, more likely than not, also contains infectious agents, biologicals, microorganisms, and possible pathological waste. Therefore, this rubbish must be disposed of properly.

Disposal Procedures

Disposing of microbiological waste can involve all other methods of biohazardous trash disposal or collection. This is because this particular category or class can often contain different types of biomedical trash. As a result, many hospitals choose to autoclave microbiological waste that contain potentially infectious liquids and solids. Sharps, like broken vials or glass slides with specimen cultures, should be placed in the appropriate container. Likewise, any microbiological waste that contains pathological material or tissue should be disposed of in accordance with pathological disposal procedures.

Final Note

Now that you're more familiar with the common types of biohazardous waste and their disposal process, that doesn't mean you should take matters into your own hands. Instead, it's highly recommended that you speak with a local medical garbage service provider or contractor. They will ensure proper removal and provide you with the right disposal equipment. Ultimately, these are just general guidelines for discarding regulated medical waste. There are specific local guidelines that vary from state to state, so contact a knowledgeable biohazardous garbage disposal team in your area.

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