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Managing and Disposing of Medical Waste

Requirements for the management and disposal of medical waste in Texas, with links to rules, guidance, and forms.

Contents

Definition of Medical Waste

Medical waste is defined in Title 30 Texas Administrative Code (30 TAC), Chapter 330, Section (§) 330.3 Exit TCEQ and explained further in 25 TAC, Part 1, Chapter 1, Subchapter K, §1.132 Exit TCEQ.

Medical waste includes treated and untreated special waste from health care-related facilities (defined in 25 TAC §1.134 Exit TCEQ) that is comprised of animal waste, bulk blood, bulk human blood, bulk human body fluids, microbiological waste, pathological waste, and sharps, as well as "regulated medical waste" (defined in 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 173, §173.134(a)(5) Exit TCEQ). The term does not include medical waste produced on a farm or ranch (as defined in 34 TAC, Chapter 3, §3.296(f) Exit TCEQ), nor does the term include artificial, nonhuman materials removed from a patient and requested by the patient, including, but not limited to, orthopedic devices and breast implants. Health care-related facilities do not include single or multi-family dwellings, and hotels, motels, or other establishments that provide lodging and related services for the public.

Medical Waste Management

Information for Generators of Medical Waste

According to 30 TAC §330.13(e) Exit TCEQ, a person who generates less than 50 pounds per month of untreated medical waste and transports their own waste to an authorized medical waste storage or processing facility is not required to obtain a permit, registration, notification, or other authorization. Other generators that transport untreated medical waste or conduct the activities described in the following sections may be required to obtain an authorization, depending on the activities conducted, and generator status as described in 30 TAC §330.1211(a)(1) and (2).

All generators of medical waste should become familiar with the rules that apply to generators, in 30 TAC §330.1207 Exit TCEQ. If you are a generator of medical waste and want to treat your own waste on-site, you must notify TCEQ as explained in the Treating Medical Waste section below. Additional information for medical waste generators is available in the guidance documents listed at the bottom of this page.

Meaning of the Terms "On-Site" and "Off-Site" in Medical Waste Management

Several of the rules regarding medical waste management use the terms "On-Site" and "Off-Site" in reference to the location where medical waste was generated. The rule in 30 TAC §330.1205 Exit TCEQ explains that for the purposes of the medical waste management rules (30 TAC Chapter 330, Subchapter Y), medical waste managed on property that is owned or effectively controlled by one entity and that is within 75 miles of the point of generation or at an affiliated facility shall be considered to be managed on-site. An affiliated facility means a health care-related facility that generates a medical waste that is routinely stored, processed, or disposed of on a shared basis in an integrated medical waste management unit owned, operated by a hospital, and located within a contiguous health care complex. Medical waste management practices that do not meet those criteria are regarded as off-site management.

Licensed Hospitals as Collection Stations for Generators of Small Quantities of Medical Waste

A licensed hospital may function as a medical waste collection and transfer facility for generators who generate less than 50 pounds per month of untreated medical waste, under the provisions of 30 TAC §330.9(e) Exit TCEQ. The hospital must be located either: (1) in an incorporated area with a population of less than 25,000 and in a county with a population of less than one million; or (2) in an unincorporated area that is not within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a city with a population more than 25,000 or within a county with a population of more than one million.

The hospital must obtain a municipal solid waste (MSW) Type V registration for a medical waste collection station, and generators must transport their own waste to the collection station.

Additional requirements are outlined in the medical waste collection station rule in 30 TAC §330.1217 Exit TCEQ.

Storing Medical Waste

Any person storing medical waste must comply with the requirements in 30 TAC §330.1209 Exit TCEQ. Generators of medical waste are not required to refrigerate the waste, but must store it in a secure manner and not create a nuisance.

Facilities that store or process untreated medical waste that is received from off-site sources must obtain an MSW Type V registration under 30 TAC §330.9(n) Exit TCEQ.

Transferring Medical Waste

Packages of untreated medical waste may be transferred between transportation units at and on the premises of a facility authorized as a transfer station, as a storage facility, or as a treatment/processing facility that has been approved to function as a transfer station according to the provisions of 30 TAC §330.1213 Exit TCEQ. Such a facility must obtain an MSW Type V registration under 30 TAC §330.9(n) Exit TCEQ.

Packages of untreated medical waste may also be transferred at medical waste collection stations under the conditions outlined in 30 TAC §330.1217 Exit TCEQ.

Persons transferring untreated medical waste should review information in 30 TAC §330.1213 Exit TCEQ on how to respond to a transportation unit malfunction or a traffic accident involving shipments of medical waste, and reporting requirements in those circumstances.

Transporting Medical Waste

Treated Medical Waste

Medical waste that has been treated according to the requirements of 30 TAC 330.1219(a) may be managed and disposed as routine municipal solid waste, provided labeling and other requirements of §330.1219(b), (c), and (e) Exit TCEQ are met.

Untreated Medical Waste

Untreated medical waste may be transported by the generator, or other authorized transporter following the requirements in 30 TAC §330.1211 Exit TCEQ. The transporter must initiate and maintain a record of each waste shipment collection and deposition as required by §330.1211(h) Exit TCEQ, using the Regulated Medical Waste Manifest (form TCEQ-310, in PDF; help with PDF).

Generators who generate 50 pounds or less per month of medical waste may transport their own untreated waste to an authorized medical waste collection station, transfer station, storage facility, or processing facility, and are exempted from permit, registration, and notification requirements by 30 TAC §330.1211(a)(1) Exit TCEQ.

Generators who generate more than 50 pounds per month of medical waste may also transport their own untreated waste according to the provisions of 30 TAC §330.1211(a)(2) Exit TCEQ to a transfer station, storage facility, or processing facility authorized to receive medical waste, but must comply with §330.1211(d)-(l) Exit TCEQ. These generators must notify the commission that they are a self-transporter of medical waste, provide certain additional information, and submit an annual summary report, using forms provided on our page titled Transporting Medical Waste.

Medical waste may be transported by the United States Postal Service in accordance with the Domestic Mail Manual, under 30 TAC §330.1211(a)(3) Exit TCEQ, without a separate authorization.

All other transporters of untreated medical waste that do not meet one of the preceding provisions must register as a transporter of medical waste as required by 30 TAC §330.9(l) Exit TCEQ, using forms provided on our page titled Transporting Medical Waste. Medical waste transporters who are required to register must also obtain and maintain financial assurance for automobile liability and pollution liability.

Search for a Registered Medical Waste Transporter

Disposition of Untreated Medical Waste

Untreated medical waste must be deposited at a facility that has been authorized to accept untreated medical waste. Untreated medical waste that is transported out of state must be deposited at a facility that is authorized by the appropriate agency in the other state having jurisdiction over such waste.

Interstate Transportation of Medical Waste

Under 330.1215 Exit TCEQ, persons who engage in the transportation of waste that does not originate or terminate in Texas are exempt from the medical waste rules in 30 TAC Chapter 330, Subchapter Y, except §330.1211(c)(1) and (2) Exit TCEQ regarding transportation units used to collect or transport untreated medical waste.

Treating Medical Waste

Medical waste may be treated on-site, or off-site at an authorized treatment facility, following the requirements of 30 TAC §330.1219 Exit TCEQ and 25 TAC §1.136 Exit TCEQ).

On-site treatment may be conducted by the generator of the waste provided the generator notifies the TCEQ as required by 30 TAC §330.11(f) Exit TCEQ, or by a mobile, on-site treater of medical waste who is registered under §330.9(m) Exit TCEQ and who operates according to the requirements of §330.1221 Exit TCEQ. A generator who intends to treat medical waste on site must indicate in the notification to the TCEQ that an approved method as required by 25 TAC §1.136 will be utilized, and that the generator will maintain records of the treatment process as required by 30 TAC §330.1219(a). A generator of medical waste that is treated on site must dispose of the treated medical waste in accordance with §330.1219(b) through (e).

Off-site treatment must be conducted at a treatment facility authorized to accept untreated medical waste. Owners and operators of medical-waste treatment facilities must obtain an MSW Type V registration as specified in 30 TAC §330.9(n) Exit TCEQ. Owners or operators of Type V processing facilities that accept delivery of untreated medical waste for which a shipping document is required under §330.1211 Exit TCEQ must ensure that a shipping document accompanies each shipment and that it is properly completed as required by §330.219(h) Exit TCEQ.

Medical waste that has been treated according to the requirements of 30 TAC 330.1219(a) may be managed and disposed of as routine municipal solid waste, provided labeling and other requirements of §330.1219(b), (c), and (e) Exit TCEQ, §330.171(c)(2) Exit TCEQ, and 25 TAC §1.136 Exit TCEQ are met.

Disposing of Medical Waste

Treated medical waste may be disposed of in a permitted MSW Type I or Type IAE landfill (described in 30 TAC §330.5(a)(1) Exit TCEQ) according to the provisions and exceptions specified in §330.1219 Exit TCEQ, §330.171(c)(2) Exit TCEQ, and 25 TAC §1.136 Exit TCEQ.

Untreated medical waste may be accepted for disposal at a landfill in the event of a natural or man-made disaster under 30 TAC §330.171(c)(1) Exit TCEQ if authorized in writing by the executive director. Under such circumstances, the waste will be handled as a special waste, and may require the generator to complete a Request for Authorization for Disposal of a Special Waste (Form TCEQ-0152, in PDF; help with PDF), and the generator to complete a Regulated Medical Waste Manifest (form TCEQ-310, in PDF; help with PDF).

Owners and operators of landfills must obtain a permit before accepting waste.

Rules, Guidance Documents, and Forms

For More Information

Contact us if you have questions about the disposal of medical waste.