Is it true that you can dispose of your medical waste through the mail? Most producers of even small amounts of infectious waste depend on a waste disposal company for pick up.
However, in many cases, a mail back system is a more cost-effective way. This is especially true for homes and smaller clinics as a way to dispose of their medical waste.
This disposal method is sometimes referred to as a “Medical Waste Mailback Program.” At MERI, we have a different name for it: a Medical Waste Recovery System (MWRS).
Who can this system benefit? Anyone who produces a small amount of infectious waste, including sharps. That makes it ideal for small clinics, nursing homes, tattoo shops or even homes that use needles for diabetic injection.
If you or your business fits this description, take a look at how the system works and how it might be a more cost-effective and compliant way to dispose of your medical waste.
How the System Works
Infectious waste and needles must be strictly and lawfully separated from your standard trash. You can’t simply toss your infectious waste into the garbage, nor can you dispose of your sharps in any empty container, as you risk needles poking through.
Instead, the law requires you use a certified rigid, impenetrable container to store and dispose of all infectious waste. This ensures proper awareness and safety of anyone who handles it.
MWRS kits include certified sharps and infectious medical waste collection containers that meet the stringent shipping and safety requirements set by the Department of Transportation and United States Postal Service. Kit containers range in size from one quart up to two gallons.
Once you fill a container, you can ship it to a waste disposal company, who will alert you upon reception. Notification is important so you can properly manifest the destruction of your waste from beginning to end.
Each MWRS kit should include the following:
- Collection container
- Heavy plastic liner bag
- Zip tie to secure bag
- Packing boxes
- Simple-to-follow instruction sheet
- Manifest to document proper treatment and disposal
- Prepaid return shipping label
How an MWRS Kit Guarantees Lawful Disposal
You might be wondering why you need to use a certified container, rather than just using any rigid and impenetrable container. In order to ensure safety for shipping, a box must meet a series of requirements.
Must withstand the elements
The Department of Transportation outlines a series of tests that certified testing labs must implement on every box before it can be used in a MWRS kit.
These tests ensure each box will be able to withstand any element associated with transportation, from weather to trauma. Tests include humidity testing, applied heat, and dropping the box from 30 to 40 feet. If any contents leak from the box, it cannot be used for transportation.
Requires the USPS stamp of approval
Once the containers pass the DOT requirements, they must pass a few more set by the USPS. These include putting an easily recognizable graphic on each box to indicate it contains biohazardous material as well as including a manifest in each box that indicates the contents.
Includes triple-layer protection
Each MWRS kit includes a triple layer of protection: The container itself is placed inside a spill-resistant plastic bag, which is then placed inside two cardboard boxes. This level of protection assures no contaminants can spill in the event of a transportation accident.
Disposal companies essentially take care of all these legal requirements. The only obligation that falls on you is to sign the manifest before shipping your containers and to keep a copy for yourself. Beyond that, all you have to do is package your waste and give the box to the postman (only the United States Postal Service will collect an infectious waste).
How Mail Back Kits Can Reduce Medical Waste Disposal Costs
Now for the important question: How does using a MWRS kit save you money? Let’s break it down by cost.
Each kit, including shipping, typically costs around $55. If MERI, for example, were to pick up the same amount of waste from your facility, we would charge about $95. That means the mail back system could cut your costs nearly in half.
More cost efficient than purchasing numerous small containers and frequently shipping them is to purchase a larger MWRS collection container. As long as you are a small waste generator that can store the containers in a secure location, infectious waste can often be stored indefinitely. Or, if the container fills quickly, a pick up option may be more cost effective.
If you generate small amounts of infectious waste either at home or in your business, using a mail back program for disposal could save you time and money. It’s the smartest, most efficient way to compliantly dispose of your infectious waste.