RMW or Regulated Medical Waste is the segment of your waste stream that might contain possible infectious materials such as blood and body fluids posing a risk of transmitting infection. Depending on which state you are in, the terminology used may differ. Whether your state refers to RMW as infectious waste or biomedical waste, the following types of medical wastes are typically regulated by state.

  • Pathological waste: Tissues, organs, body parts, and body fluids removed during surgery and autopsied.
  • Blood and blood products: Waste blood, serum, plasma and blood products.
  • Microbiological waste: Cultures and stocks of infectious agents discarded cultures, culture dishes and devices used to transfer, inoculate and mix cultures, stocks, specimens, live and attenuated vaccines and associated items.
  • Sharps: contaminated hypodermic needles, syringes, scalpel blades, Pasteur pipettes, and broken glass.
  • Isolation waste: Generated by hospitalized patients isolated to protect others from communicable disease.
  • Animal waste: Contaminated animal carcasses, body parts and bedding from animals intentionally exposed to pathogens in research, biologicals production, or in vivo pharmaceuticals testing.

While most states require you to render your RMW non-infectious before disposing of it, RMW is unique to the healthcare industry due to its regulation by state rather than at a federal level. While this alone can cause confusion, add in medical waste rules coming from multiple agencies at the state level and you have some complicated challenges.

There are four main agencies that consistently have regulations in most all states.

  1. State Medical Waste Regulations – Virtually all 50 states have to some extent enacted medical waste regulations. These regulations can differ from just one or two minor differences to the extreme, where you wouldn’t assume it is the same waste being disposed.
  2. DOT Regulations – The Department of Transportation defines RMW as a hazardous material, which comes with extensive regulations and certifications. While this might not mean a great deal to the generator of the hazardous materials, knowing your local laws help protect you from liabilities.   
  3. OSHA Regulations – OSHA regulates several facets of medical waste. Sharps management, the labeling of bags and containers, along with the storage of medical waste are just a few of the areas heavily regulated by OSHA.
  4. US EPA Regulations – The EPA under its Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulates some of the chemicals used in certain treatment technologies.

Since Federal law does not provide a specific definition of medical waste and the laws are not always clear on the overall rules of classification and handling you probably have more questions. The Healthcare Environmental Resource Center has an RMW State Locator that does a great job of summing up your local state definitions and regulations. The RMW State Locator also provides contact information for individuals in state agencies who may also be of help resolve any of your additional questions.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a pickup in NC or SC, please contact Tonya Kraning at 864-979-2121 or email tkraning@assuredwaste.com