FAQs - Medical Waste Program

Q01:  What is Medical Waste?
A01:  Medical Waste is generated as a result of diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals; and meets the definition of biohazardous and/or sharps waste.

Q02:  What is Biohazardous Waste?
A02:  Biohazardous Waste includes, but is not limited to, laboratory waste, microbiology specimens, surgery specimens, infectious animal parts, waste with recognizable fluid blood, waste comprised of pharmaceuticals, waste contaminated with chemotherapeutic agents, and infectious excreta or secretions from humans.

Q03:  What is Sharps Waste?
A03:  Sharps Waste includes, but is not limited to, hypodermic needles, hypodermic needles with syringes, blades, needles with attached tubing, syringes contaminated with biohazardous waste, and broken glass.

Q04:  Who is required to have a Medical Waste Generator Permit?
A04:  All businesses that produce Medical Waste are required to register with the Environmental Management Department; this includes but is not limited to: Dental Offices, Veterinary and Medical Clinics, Hospitals, and Doctor's Offices. An annual fee is associated with most medical waste generator permits. Large quantity medical waste generators (over 200 lbs per month), facilities with on-site treatment, and common storage facilities are subject to routine inspections. Call us at 916-875-8550 for further details.

Q05:  How can I dispose of syringes that I generate from treating myself or family members at home?
A05:  As of September 1, 2008 a new law, SB1305, has prohibited the disposal of home generated sharps into any container used for private or commercial collection of solid waste, recyclable materials, or greenwaste. This includes roll-off containers used for the collection of solid waste, construction and demolition debris, greenwaste, or other recyclable materials. Sharps are now required to be placed in an approved sharps container and managed through a waste management facility, an approved home sharps collection site which could include but is not limited to pharmacies and hospitals or by using an approved mail back system.

For a list of facilities that accept sharps and pharmaceutical waste, please visit:
www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Sharps (for sharps);
www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Medications (for medications)

Q06:  What if my employees haul medical waste?
A06:  As of January 1, 2015, medical waste generating facilities do NOT need to apply for a limited quantity hauling exemption to allow their employees to transport medical waste without obtaining a medical waste hauling permit. Employees may transport limited quantities of medical waste under the Department of Transportation’s Materials of Trade Exemption, 49 CFR 173.6. The DOT can be reached at (202) 366-4000