NJ Home | Services A to Z | Departments/Agencies | FAQs  
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
DEP Home | About DEP | Index by Topic | Programs/Units | DEP Online 

Mail Code: 401-02C
Division of Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste
Bureau of Recycling and Hazardous Waste Management
P.O. Box 420
401 East State Street, 2nd Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0420
Telephone: (609) 984-3438 Telecopier: (609) 777-1951

Guidance Document For Regulated Medical Waste (RMW)
(Updated July 2016)

The information outlined herein is intended to serve only as guidance to persons interested in understanding the regulation of RMW management in New Jersey. This guidance must be consulted in conjunction with the solid waste regulations at N.J.A.C. 7:26 et seq. and other relevant regulations to understand the complete requirements for the management of RMW. For the reader's convenience, an unofficial version of N.J.A.C. 7:26 et seq. can be found using the "N.J.A.C. 7:26 Solid Waste Rule" link in the Helpful Links section of the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management's web page at https://www.state.nj.us./dep/dshw or directly by using the Web link https://www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/resource/rules.html . To obtain official copies of these regulations, consult the NJDEP Office of Legal Affairs "How to Get Copies of Department Rules" page at https://www.nj.gov/dep/legal/get_rule.htm

This guidance document summarizes the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (Department) regulations at N.J.A.C. 7:26 et seq. pertaining to the requirements for the management, transportation and disposal of RMW. The guidance document is intended only as a guide to the regulations to help the reader understand the regulations and does not replace the regulations in any context.

In 1987 two significant beach closings took place along the Monmouth/Ocean County coast in New Jersey. This was the result of washups of medical waste and other floatable debris, the source of which was never identified. Although subsequent washups had little if any medical waste the image of a syringe in the eye of the public was not soon forgotten and strict federal legislation, the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 (MWTA), was enacted. Among the requirements of the MWTA the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was required to: 1) list the types of medical waste to be tracked; 2) develop a uniform cradle-to-grave tracking system; 3) set standards, as part of the tracking system, for segregation, packaging, labeling, record-keeping and reporting; and 4) consider a small quantity exemption from tracking for generators of less than 50 pounds of regulated medical waste (RMW) per month.

As a result of these wash-up incidents and others on the Atlantic coast, stringent RMW disposal laws were enacted in New Jersey which was based on the MWTA. A heightened public awareness regarding the proper management and disposal of RMW also resulted. Today, approximately 20,000 RMW generators in the state of New Jersey dispose of an estimated 89,000 tons of RMW annually. New Jersey's medical waste regulations at N.J.A.C. 7:26-3A , federal EPA regulations, and United States Department of Transportation regulations governing the interstate transport of RMW, will ensure that RMW continues to be managed safely. As a result of these measures, incidents of improper or unsafe medical waste are uncommon.

In New Jersey, RMW consists of several classes, including Cultures and Stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals, Human Pathological Waste, Human Blood and Blood Products, Needles Syringes and Sharps, Contaminated Animal Waste including carcasses, Isolation Wastes from patients with highly communicable diseases. Each of these classes of RMW are required to be treated (to kill pathogens or disease-causing organisms) and destroyed (ground or minced into small unrecognizable pieces) prior to disposal at an authorized solid waste management facility. Such treatment and destruction can be achieved, depending on the waste type, through autoclaving, incineration, or with an alternative treatment technology (e.g., microwave, chemical disinfection, electro-thermal and steam-thermal treatment) approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) per N.J.A.C. 7:26-3A.47.

There are currently 10 facilities in New Jersey that are registered to treat and destroy their own RMW on site via various methods which include incineration or an alternative technology such as but not limited to microwave/grinders, chemical/grinders, autoclave/grinders. These sites process a portion of the estimated 89,000 tons of RMW generated in New Jersey each year including small amounts accepted from other registered New Jersey RMW generators. There are currently no commercial treatment and destruction facilities processing RMW in New Jersey. The remainder of the RMW is shipped out of state to authorized facilities.

NJDEP, in conjunction with NJDOH, regulates medical pursuant to the RMW regulations at N.J.A.C. 7:26-3A (RMW Regulations)

The RMW Program goal is to protect health care providers and workers, waste haulers, refuse workers and the general public from potential health risks associated with RMW. The Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health and Senior Services jointly share responsibilities to administer this program:

Registers RMW Generators;
RMW Transporter Inspections;
Annual Reports;
Technical Assistance;
Authorize Alternative Technologies
RMW Generator Inspections
Needlestick Incident Investigations
RMW Abandonments and Emergencies
Efficacy Assessment of Alternative Technologies

For further information on the disposal of medical waste please feel free to contact the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Regulated Medical Waste Section in the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management at (609) 984-6620, or email us at dshweb@dep.state.nj.us. You may contact the New Jersey Department of Health's Consumer, Environmental and Occupational Health Services at (609) 826-4941. Additional informational documents are provided below: https://www.state.nj.us/health/phss/sanitation.shtml#medical .

Available RMW Resources

Indicates the document is in
Adobe Acrobat

Summaries of  the reported
1996 through 2002
Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) generated.

- Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes

- Waste Class
- Disposal Management

RMW transporter fact sheet RMW Transporters
RMW tracking form fact sheet RMW Generator Database Search
RMW Q&A generator fact sheet Download RMW Generator Database
RMW generator fact sheet RMW Forms

Available Guidance and Resources for Home Care Waste

EPA Disposal Tips For Home Health Care Syringe

DOH Safe Syringe Disposal Guidance
(Home Care)
Adobe Acrobat

NJDEP Guidelines for Proper Disposal of Household Medications
Adobe Acrobat

Program: Solid Waste Home
Department: NJDEP Home | About DEP | Index by Topic | Programs/Units | DEP Online
Statewide: NJ Home | Services A to Z | Departments/Agencies | FAQs

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-

Last Updated: January 12, 2018