How to Dispose of Medical Waste in Red Biohazard Bags

Written by laura ross
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How to Dispose of Medical Waste in Red Biohazard Bags
Blood is considered a form of biohazardous waste. (blood testing image by John Keith from

Biohazardous medical wastes are defined as any waste that contains "pourable" amounts of potentially infectious materials or substances. Potentially infectious substances include but are not limited to blood, plasma, semen and other bodily fluids. Sharp wastes are also considered biohazardous medical waste regardless of whether they have been in contact with potentially infectious substances. However, sharp wastes must be disposed of in plastic leakproof and puncture-proof biohazard waste containers, and should not be disposed of in the red biohazard waste bags. Examples of sharp waste include razor blades and needles. Biohazardous and sharp biohazardous wastes are common in hospitals, clinics and many university and government-based research institutions. The proper disposal of these wastes is essential for maintaining safe and healthy work environments.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Red biohazard waste bag
  • Plastic container with tight-sealing lid
  • Latex or nitrile safety gloves
  • Permanent marker

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  1. 1

    Purchase the red biohazard bags that have been designated for disposing of biohazardous medical wastes from a local vendor. At many institutions, the Environmental Health and Safety Department will provide the disposal bags free of charge.

  2. 2

    Place inside the red biohazard bag the biohazardous waste that has been generated. The red biohazard bags are usually kept inside of another plastic or cardboard container with some type of a cover or sealing lid. Your facility may provide specific cardboard containers that hold the red biohazard bags. Contact your Environmental Health and Safety Department for information on how your specific institution handles biohazardous wastes.

  3. 3

    Tie the red biohazard waste bag once the bag has become three fourths of the way full with medical wastes. You can physically tie a knot to close the bag. Wear latex or nitrile gloves when performing these steps to maintain a safe work environment. Closing the bag ensures that the contents of the bag will not leak or become exposed when the bag is being transported for disposal.

  4. 4

    Store the tied red biohazard bag in a hard container that is leakproof and contains a tightly sealing lid. Label the container as "Biohazardous Waste" using a permanent marker or non-erasable pen. Write this label several times all over the container so that the title can be read from multiple directions. If your institution has a specified pickup procedure, fill out the waste log so the employees that come to pick up the wastes know what is being disposed of. Some institutions have specific labels to print and affix to the container.

    How to Dispose of Medical Waste in Red Biohazard Bags
    Biohazard waste bags and containers must be properly labelled. (Biohazard flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from
  5. 5

    Call your Environmental Health and Safety Department to schedule a date to pick up the wastes. If you are not at an institute or facility where the biohazardous wastes are picked up by a third party, call your city's local Environmental Health Department to obtain the information required to properly dispose of your biohazardous wastes. All medical and research-based institutions have established guidelines to follow when disposing of medical wastes. These facilities could also offer more information on the specific company or waste disposal centre that is near your community. If you have to move the wastes yourself, be sure to wear gloves and keep the red biohazard bag containing the wastes in a labelled, hard plastic container with a tight-sealing lid. This will ensure safe transport of the wastes.

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