Due to a 2011 change in the interpretation of landfill regulations, the UW’s waste collection contractor will no longer able to pick up RED biohazard bags to take to the landfill.
The waste collection contractor currently considers all RED waste containers, including red medical sharps containers, to be “Medical Waste” that may still be a biohazard (even if the container has already been autoclaved).
As a result, laboratories in most UW-buildings that generate biohazardous or potentially biohazardous waste in biohazard bags must use ORANGE or CLEAR biohazard bags, but not red biohazard bags. These bags should be autoclaved then labeled with an “OK to Trash” sticker prior to disposal in the trash.
There are a few exceptions to this policy. Certain facilities, such as the Clinical Sciences Center, send all potentially biohazardous waste, including biohazard bags, to Madison Environmental Resourcing, Inc. (MERI) for processing as medical waste. Thus, it is acceptable for (non-sharp) biohazardous materials in these facilities to be placed into red biohazard bags because they will not ultimately end up in a landfill.
If you are unsure whether biohazardous waste in your building is picked up by MERI (for disposal as medical waste) or is picked up by Waste Management after autoclaving (for disposal in the landfill as trash), please check with your building manager.
We greatly appreciate your patience and cooperation with this change. Contact the UW-Madison Office of Biological Safety (OBS) at email@example.com or 608-263-2037 with any questions.