Medical Waste Segregation Series: Red Sharps Containers vs. Red Bags

Learn the difference between red bags and red sharps containers as part of our medical waste segregation series.

In our medical waste segregation series, we’ve been covering everything you need to know about proper disposal of sharps and other hazardous and infectious waste. To keep proper separation and provide advance warning for those coming into contact with the waste, designated color containers are used for each type of waste.

This keeps healthcare workers and those in medical facilities accountable while also making it easier for waste disposal companies to properly perform destruction.

In this post we’re focused on red bags and red sharps containers and how they fit into the color-coded system.

The color red is used for more than one container and designation so understanding the difference and which to use is critical.

Red sharps containers which we talk about extensively on our blog are red containers labeled with a hazard warning. These containers are exclusively used for needles, razors, staples, blades and any other sharp. They have a sealed lid and the container cannot be pierced. During processing, they undergo a sterilization process or can be sent to the incinerator.

The color red is also used for containers (sometimes the use of a red bag) for biohazard materials. This is waste that’s infectious and contaminated but soft (like clothing and sheets) and won’t pierce through bags or other containers. Whether IV tubing, contaminated PPE or cultures, this waste should still be kept separate and clearly marked using a red bag or red sharps containers.

After the medical waste disposal company has processed the items so that they are no longer infectious, it is sent for proper disposal and destruction using a route that’s safe for all (including the environment).

In addition to federal law and compliance regulations, some states also have their own rules around proper collection and disposal practices for medical waste. It is a good idea to brush up on local laws to ensure that you are following proper procedure.

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Red Sharps Containers

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