Massachusetts Department of Public Health regulations (State Sanitary Code Title VIII, 105 CMR 480.00) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulations (310 CMR 19.000) prescribe the management and disposal of infectious waste, which is defined as physically dangerous medical or biological waste, such as: sharps; blood and blood products; pathological wastes; cultures and stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals; contaminated animal carcasses, body parts and bedding.

Transport of infectious waste is regulated by local Boards of Health, the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy and the federal Department of Transportation. Infectious waste is not a regulated hazardous waste. Infectious waste is a special waste under the solid waste regulations.

How should infectious waste be managed at medical facilities?

Infectious waste may be disinfected or incinerated at the site where it is generated, or shipped to a site, other than where it was generated, for treatment of disposal. The regulations specify treatment, labeling and packaging requirements before infectious waste is transported to another site for disposal.

How should infectious waste from home health care be managed?

For disposal of medical sharps such as needles, syringes, and lancets, check with your health department to see if they have a collection program. If no sharps collection program is available, purchase a postage paid mail back container to have your sharps disposed through a medical waste incinerator.

For additional information: 

What requirements must medical facilities meet before the infectious waste is accepted for disposal?

To be disposed at a sanitary landfill or municipal waste combustor:

  • The solid waste regulations require that all infectious waste must be treated (i.e. disinfected or autoclaved) to make it non-infectious and then be labeled as non-infectious.
  • Sharps must be ground up or otherwise have their physical hazard eliminated.
  • All waste must be labeled with the generator's name, address and telephone number.

To be disposed at an infectious waste incinerator:

  • All waste must be placed in rigid, leak-resistant containers and labeled with the generator's name, address and telephone number.
  • Untreated waste must be labeled with the international biohazard symbol and travel with an infectious waste manifest.

Any improper disposal activities should be reported to local officials, the Environmental Strike Force 617-556-1000, and the Department of Public Health 617-624-5757.

What are the transport requirements for infectious waste?

Once the infectious waste has been treated so that it is no longer infectious and/or packaged and labeled for shipment, its infectious and physically dangerous characteristics have been limited. It is now considered a solid waste.

  • If your shop is on a septic system, consult MassDEP's industrial wastewater program at 617-292-5503 for information about holding tanks and containers.
  • Call the Business Compliance Assistance Line at 617-292-5898 for help.
  • To report a spill of oil or hazardous material, call MassDEP's Emergency Response line at 888-304-1133.

What regulations governing the management of infectious waste?

  • State Sanitary Code Title VIII (105 CMR 480.00): Infectious Waste Disposal & Transport
  • 310 CMR 19.000: Solid Waste Management Facility Regulations pdf format of 310 CMR 19.000: Solid Waste Management Facility Regs
  • Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 111 Section 31A requires local Boards of Health to permit waste haulers. Because specific requirements for transporting waste vary depending on local ordinances, the Board of Health should be contacted to identify special requirements for each community in which the transporter picks up infectious waste.
  • Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 159B requires that transporters of infectious waste obtain operating authority from the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy. Each vehicle must show a decal on its front bumper. For information, call 617-305-3559.
  • Copies of the regulations may be obtained from the Massachusetts State Bookstore .