Infectious waste within animal care facilities includes scalpels, needles, and other sharp objects as well as animal blood and body fluids associated with zoonotic disease. This category of waste is separate from hazardous waste. Waste that simultaneously meets the definition of both hazardous waste and infectious waste is called dual waste. Manage dual waste in compliance with both hazardous waste and infectious waste regulations.
See MPCA hazardous waste Fact sheet #4.30 Infectious Waste Management Guidance for Generators [PDF 61KB].
Waste Reduction Tips
Infectious waste/sharps cost five to ten times as much to dispose of as solid waste. Generally, cotton balls, swabs, and dressings that are not dripping blood or body fluids are not regulated as infectious waste and may be discarded as solid waste. Urine, feces and saliva are not regulated body fluids, unless they are also bloody. These can be disposed of as domestic sewage. MnTAP has developed an infectious waste placard [.doc] that can be used and modified to assist with proper segregation.
Reusable sharps containers
Many infectious waste disposal companies offer reusable sharps containers. Reusable containers reduce purchase costs and reduce waste. The process for cleaning and returning these containers to the users has improved greatly, ensuring they are clean and odor-free. Healthcare Waste Solutions, Stericycle, and Waste Management healthcare Solutions all provide reusable sharps containers in Minnesota.
Any waste disposal process contributes to pollution of the environment and can impact public health. Incineration adds many toxics, such as dioxins, hydrogen chloride gases, lead and mercury to the air. Autoclaving infectious waste is preferable as it decontaminates the waste using steam. Volatilization of compounds in the waste does occur, but not to the extent of incineration. Autoclaving is the environmentally preferable method for treating infectious waste. Ensure this is how your hauler treats it.