Has your medical waste reached its expiration date?

One of the most common questions our Compliance Department receives is, “How long can I store medical waste in the State of California? The answer, like so many that come from a compliance department is, “It depends.”

We look for guidance from the California Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA.)

The storage limits can be found in Section 118280 and 118285. Click here to get a free copy. 

First, Pharmaceutical waste has different storage allowances than the other biohazardous waste. Pharmaceutical waste (as defined by the MWMA,) cannot be stored for more than 90 days ONCE the container is ready for disposal. However, the container must be emptied at least once a year.

Second, Biohazardous waste storage limits depend on the amount of waste you generate.

If you generate less than 20 lbs per month:

Type of Medical Waste Kept Frozen Not Kept Frozen
Biohazardous waste Remove every 90 days Remove every 30 days
Sharps waste ready for disposal (Section 118285) Remove every 30 days Remove every 30 days

If you generate 20 or more lbs. per month:

Type of Medical Waste Kept Frozen Not Kept Frozen
Biohazardous waste Remove every 90 days Remove every 7 days
Sharps waste ready for disposal (Section 118285) Remove every 30 days Remove every 30 days

NOTE: The amount of monthly generation that determines how long you may keep biohazardous waste onsite is NOT the same amount of monthly generation that determines whether you are a small quantity or large quantity generator.

The generator definitions can be found in Section 117680 and 117760 and are based on the following:

Small Quantity Generator – Generates less than 200 lbs. in any one month.

Large Quantity Generator – Generates 200 lbs. or more in any one month.

For additional questions on storage guidelines for medical waste, please contact your Ingenium Representative.

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