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Medical Waste Program FAQ


What is Medical Waste?

Medical Waste is generated as a result of diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals; and meets the definition of biohazardous and/or sharps waste.

What is Biohazardous Waste?

Biohazardous Waste includes, but is not limited to, laboratory waste, microbiology specimens, surgery specimens, infectious animal parts, waste with recognizable fluid blood, and infectious excreta or secretions from humans.

What is Sharps Waste?

Sharps Waste includes, but is not limited to, hypodermic needles, hypodermic needles with syringes, blades, needles with attached tubing, syringes contaminated with biohazardous waste, and broken glass.

Who is required to have a Medical Waste Generator Permit?

All businesses that produce Medical Waste are required to have a Medical Waste Generator Permit. This includes but is not limited to: Dental Offices, Veterinary and Medical Clinics, Hospitals, and Doctor's Offices. An annual fee is associated with registration and permits. Contact us at Medical.Waste@cchealth.org or 925-608-5500 for further details.

What are home-generated sharps and unwanted medications?

Sharps waste and unwanted medications derived from a household, including a multifamily residence or household.

How do I dispose of my home-generated sharps and unwanted medications?

As of September 1, 2008 a new law, SB1305, has prohibited the disposal of home generated sharps into any container used for private or commercial collection of solid waste, recyclable materials, or greenwaste. This includes roll-off containers used for the collection of solid waste, construction and demolition debris, greenwaste, or other recyclable materials.

Sharps are now required to be placed in an approved sharps container and managed through a waste management facility, an approved home sharps collection site which could include but is not limited to pharmacies and hospitals or by using an approved mail back system.

Many pharmacies, local law enforcement agencies, City Hall buildings, and local house hold hazardous waste facilities provide disposal services for home-generated sharps and unwanted medications. Contact the facility for more information.

Below are a few resources to help locate disposal sites in your area:

  1. California Department of Public Health- Home-Generated Sharps & Pharmaceutical Consolidation Points
  2. CalRecycle- Household Sharps Waste Disposal
  3. Contra Costa Waste Reduction and Recycling
  4. DEA- Drug Disposal Site Locator
  5. Med Project- Drug Disposal Site Locator
  6. SafeNeedleDisposal.org- Disposal Search Directory

How do I start a safe drug disposal program for kiosk drop off and/or mail back service?

You must have a stewardship plan approved by Contra Costa County. A stewardship plan complying with Contra County Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance 418-16, a completed Pharmaceutical Stewardship Application, Stewardship Plan Checklist and the corresponding fee all must be submitted to Contra Costa County Environmental Health.