Pathological Waste

March 04, 2024

How to Prepare Anatomical Waste for Shipment

Disposing of anatomical waste involves more than just throwing it away in a designated container. Organizations that generate anatomical waste must ensure it is packaged appropriately for pickup and transport to preserve all healthcare staff and treatment facility worker safety and to maintain compliance with federal, provincial, and local regulations.

What is Anatomical Waste?

Anatomical waste is a type of biomedical waste. The term generally refers to human or animal tissues, organs, limbs, surgical specimens, and other body parts. Anatomical waste might be generated as part of laboratory and diagnostic testing or following an operational procedure.

Does Stericycle Accept Anatomical Waste?

Yes, Stericycle will collect, transport, and treat anatomical waste. Per Stericycle’s policy (and many provincial regulations and guidelines), anatomical waste must be segregated and routed for treatment via incineration. Biomedical waste incineration helps render the waste noninfectious and unrecognizable before it is disposed of.

What Do I Need to Know About Preparing Anatomical Waste for Shipment?

Per our Waste Acceptance Policy, Stericycle will only accept this material if it has been removed from solvents, such as formaldehyde and formalin.

Further, anatomical waste should be packaged separately for pickup in red bags and placed in containers marked for incineration only.

Why Doesn’t Stericycle Accept Anatomical Waste that is Preserved in Solvents?

“We Commit to Safety Always” and “We Do the Right Thing” are two of our core values. Stericycle is committed to safe and compliant operations to support our team members and the communities we serve. 

Solvents, such as formalin, often contain formaldehyde. Exposure to formaldehyde can have severe and lasting health effects. When anatomical waste is not properly packaged (meaning decanted from any chemicals and in a container labelled for incineration), it creates a potential risk for all downstream workers, including Stericycle drivers and plant associates.

To help us protect our team and in support of our compliance with applicable Occupational Health and Safety standards, it is imperative that formalin, formaldehyde, and other chemical preservatives are removed from any waste sent to or picked up by Stericycle. 

Our Waste Acceptance Policy, which dictate what waste Stericycle can and cannot accept, are based on several considerations, including regulatory obligations, operational capabilities, and workplace safety.

We ask all our customers to adhere to our policies so that we can ensure a safe working environment for our team members.

Similarly, to help protect their workplace, customers should follow these best practices:

  1. Have staff follow applicable internal safety and personal protection guidelines when managing formaldehyde-containing materials, including when decanting, solidifying, or otherwise handling waste during packaging.
  2. Ask staff to fully tie/close bags containing decanted anatomical waste and ensure that outer shipping boxes/containers are also completely closed consistent with Stericycle’s Waste Packaging Requirements, according to the provincial guidelines. See Ontario specific procedures here.
  3. Make sure that containers offered to Stericycle that contain anatomical waste for incineration processing are properly labelled, according to the provincial guidelines. See Ontario specific procedures here.

As part of your waste determination process, be sure to review Stericycle’s Waste Acceptance Policy with your hospital, lab, morgue, veterinary office, mortuary, or other departments/areas in your organization that generate anatomical wastes or use solvent preservatives. All generators should be aware of and follow the above requirements to protect the health and safety of all employees managing this waste and to avoid any disruption in services or the need for charges or returns for non-conforming waste.

To ensure your organization correctly packages its anatomical wastes, it can help to consult with a biomedical waste management expert like Stericycle. For further information regarding our Waste Acceptance Policies, please contact your local Stericycle representative.

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