SEC-006: Regulated Medical Waste Management

Date: 06/30/2005 Status: Final
Last Revised: 07/21/2021
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Vice President for Research
Applies To:

Academic Division and the Medical Center.

Table of Contents:

Policy Statement

Reason for Policy:

To protect University faculty, staff, students, visitors and the public from exposure to potentially disease-causing waste materials, and to ensure compliance with all local, state and federal regulations.

Policy Summary:

All regulated medical waste must be properly segregated.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Regulated Medical Waste:

    Any waste materials that are capable of producing a disease by an organism likely to be pathogenic to healthy humans, such as the following:

    1. Discarded cultures and stocks of microorganisms, specimens, vaccines and associated items containing organisms likely to be pathogenic to healthy humans.
    2. Human blood and certain body fluids as defined by OSHA. 
    3. Items saturated or caked with human blood or body fluids that would release blood/body fluid in a liquid or semi liquid state if compressed or would flake if handled.
    4. Human tissue or anatomical wastes.
    5. Sharps (needles, syringes with attached needles, and scalpel blades: Needles, syringes with attached needles, scalpels, scissors lancets, guide wires and glass pasture pipettes, etc.).
    6. Animal carcasses, body parts, bedding and related wastes when intentionally infected with organisms likely to be pathogenic to healthy humans.
    7. Any residue that results from the clean up of a spill of infectious waste.
    8. Any waste contaminated by or mixed with infectious waste.
Policy Statement:

Regulated medical waste (RMW) must be disposed of in accordance with this policy. Any waste that meets the above definition must be considered RMW. The disposal of RMW is both highly regulated and very costly. University of Virginia faculty, staff and students must use the utmost care to segregate all waste materials properly. No Radioactive or Hazardous Waste shall be placed within the RMW stream. Also, no normal unregulated trash or recyclable materials shall be put into RMW containers.

Compliance with Policy:
Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion in accordance with relevant University policies.

Questions about this policy should be directed to Environmental Health and Safety.


Non-sharp RMW other than animal carcasses must be placed in a UVA Regulated Medical Waste Container. Research labs must use the Contaminated Material Container (CMC). The UVA Health System Facilities must use a reusable Regulated Medical Waste container. Both of these containers are lined with red bags containing the universal biohazard symbol and the University contact address and telephone number.

Laboratories with an autoclave may place non-sharps RMW in clear autoclavable waste bags and steam sterilize it in accordance with the Virginia RMW regulations (i.e., certain time, temperature and pressure, regular spore testing, record keeping, etc.). The sterilized waste can then be disposed of as normal trash.

All used sharps must be disposed of in a puncture resistant sharps disposal container. Full sharps disposal containers are then closed and placed in a designated area for pickup by Environmental Services (Medical Center only) or EHS personnel.

Animal carcasses that have been intentionally infected with organisms likely to be pathogenic to healthy humans for purposes of research, inoculated with human cell lines, or are otherwise considered biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) or above are considered RMW and must be put in red plastic bags and disposed of in the vivarium cold room or designated freezer.

The full re-useable RMW containers within UVA Health System Facilities must be removed and managed by Environmental Services or by a specially assigned staff member.

Once a CMC is full, the top must be taped closed and properly labeled with the generator’s name, building, room number, phone extension and date. CMCs are either removed and managed by UVA Environmental Services Department or brought to the appropriate RMW storage area for your building or by Building Services Housekeeping (contact Environmental Health & Safety 2-4911 for information on this location) where it will be removed and managed by EHS.

Related Information:

Each University department shall decide (1) which individual materials qualify only as RMW and must be treated differently; and (2) designate those individuals who generate RMW who must receive training to be done as part of the annual OSHA Blood Borne Pathogens Regulations training, either online for the Academic Division (EHS provided training) or performed by the Medical Center for Medical Center employees and clinical staff. Additional RMW Guidance can be found on the UVA Infection Control Website and the EHS Website.

Major Category: Safety, Security and Environmental Quality
Approved by, Date: Policy Review Committee, 06/30/2005
Revision History: Added Compliance section 7/21/21; Updated 7/21/11.
Supersedes (previous policy):
Regulated Medical Waste Management XIV.I.1