Written by Megan Chamberlain
04 Mar 2021

How to Dispose of Biomedical Waste in Detroit

As one of the largest cities in Michigan, Detroit provides a huge number of hospitals and medical facilities for residents not only in the city but surrounding communities and throughout Wayne County. Detroit enjoys popular tourist destinations, architectural monuments, and a number of historic locations. The city is also home to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Harper University Hospital (opened in 1863), and the Henry Ford Hospital, founded in 1915 and with approximately 875 beds, just to name just a few.

Due to its dozens of outpatient facilities, cancer centers, dialysis facilities, and other medical specialty practices, Detroit produces a lot of biohazard waste. Knowing how to properly dispose of it is not only beneficial to public health and the environment, but to the safety and well-being of healthcare providers and patients who visit and work in these locations.

Knowing the difference between different waste streams is essential in effective medical waste segregation, as well as properly storing, and disposing of medical waste in any city. Medical waste audits can be extremely helpful to healthcare facilities when it comes to identifying gaps waste management practices.



What is biohazard waste?

Biohazardous waste is defined as the type of medical waste that may be potentially infectious. This type of waste can come from a number of sources in any medical prognosis determination, procedure, or activity, as well as preventive care scenarios, and in the direct treatment of illnesses or disease processes.

The federal government provides guidelines for medical waste management, but states often have their own guidelines, which can be stricter than federal guidelines. You can’t pick and choose which guidelines to follow. They must all be followed.

Every healthcare professional in a medical environment or facility in Detroit needs to know exactly what biohazardous waste consists of. Technically, it’s “any solid waste generated in the diagnosis, treatment, research, production, or testing of biologicals for humans or animals.” It can also include but is not limited to:

  • Sharps and needles
  • Blood-soaked or soiled bandages
  • Discarded surgical gloves or surgical instruments
  • Culture dishes
  • Removed body organs (excepting teeth)

Federal guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Part 261 of Title 40 provides legislation for specific information regarding the handling of potentially infectious or hazardous medical waste.

Other definitions of biological waste also apply. For example, the Healthcare Environmental Resource Center defines medical waste as “blood and blood products, exudates, secretions, suctioning, and other body fluids which contains free liquids and cannot be or are not directly discarded into a municipal sewer system.”

So how do you properly dispose of biological waste? You follow the rules.

How to handle biohazardous waste

The city of Detroit and other cities throughout Michigan must follow state and federal guidelines for waste generators, meaning facilities that produce medical waste. Medical waste is to be segregated from other waste streams and stored in containers that resist damage caused by potential punctures or leaks.

Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) provides a number of regulatory medical waste program information services and links to PDF files. For example, access links to guidelines for medical waste producing facilities, and guidelines for facilities that incinerate medical waste on-site as well as those that don’t.

You may also refer to the public health code (Act 368) Part 138 titled Medical Waste, updated in 2020 by the state of Michigan’s legislative counsel. Section 333.13811 (Storage, Decontamination, and Disposal of Medical Waste). Medical waste generators should refer to Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality Waste Management and Radiological Protection Division, which regulates the generation, storage, treatment, and disposal of medical waste in the state of Michigan.

Note: This department was enacted in 1990, responding to a number of incidents where medical waste was washing up on shorelines of Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and other bodies of water throughout Michigan. The goal of this division is to reduce risks of public health due to exposure of untreated medical waste as well as preservation of Michigan’s environment.

The code and associated documents explain compliant packaging of medical waste, rules regarding training standards, and, of course, applicable administrative fines for violations. Michigan’s Department of Public Health or the Department of Natural Resources can levy a number of fines for facilities determined to be non-compliant.

Detroit must follow federal regulations that require the segregation of medical waste into an appropriate container/containers from other types of waste at its point of origin. The containers should close securely and not only prevent dripping and leakage, but other possible types of damage or exposure during storage and handling, and ultimately, transportation for disposal.

Medical waste generators (even very small medical waste generators), are still required to register according to the requirements and rules of the Michigan Waste Regulatory Act (MWRA). Registrants are required to provide the physical location of the generating or producing facility, and this also includes tattoo and body art facilities.




Maintaining compliance with biohazard waste regulations

Daniels Health strongly encourages all facilities that produce any amount of medical waste to carefully adhere to local, state and federal guidelines when it comes to proper segregation and disposal of medical waste. The state of Michigan strongly encourages compliance to all medical facility owners. At its very basic, compliance not only means proper segregation of medical waste streams, including potential biomedical/hazardous/infectious healthcare waste, but also following the rules as pertaining to:

  • Certificate of registration - required for any facility that produces any volume of medical waste
  • Medical waste management planning
  • Employee safety and record of training
  • Packaging and storage (read Part 138 of Act 3684 - packaging and storage requirements. Be aware that medical waste can be stored at a waste generating facility for no longer than 90 days (that includes sharps). The storage period begins the date when the container use is initiated.
  • Shipment records - documentation is essential to verify that regulated medical waste has been properly removed and treated and disposed of every 90 days.

Refer to www.Michigan.gov for an additional number of useful references and guidance documents regarding requirements and compliance. There is “no excuse” for not knowing the rules and regulations of biomedical waste disposal in Detroit, Michigan, no matter which way you look at it.

Daniels Health provides a vast number of containers for a variety of medical waste stream storage needs and disposal along with educational and legal requirements for states and cities around the country that generate biomedical waste.

Proper medical waste management and disposal methods are essential in protecting employees, patients, the public, and our environment. Do your part by being aware of Detroit’s biomedical waste disposal guidelines. For more information on how Daniels Health can help your facility stay on top of ever-changing guidelines and regulations, contact us today.  Alternatively find out more about our Michigan operations and service capabilities on our Michigan service page here.


When it comes to healthcare waste segregation and management, don't take chances.
Call Daniels Health for help setting up a workable and safe healthcare waste management system. 


855 251 2655


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Megan Chamberlain

Megan Chamberlain

Content Strategist

With a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things and a quick wit, Megan was the recipient of the Daniels Pun-Master Award 2017 and is the go-to for fun analogies to explain healthcare waste.