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Buying guide for Best biohazard waste containers

Waste management and recycling is important at the residential and commercial levels, but not all refuse is the same, which is why we sort items in separate containers. Biohazard waste containers are in a league of their own, as they’re designed to dispose of specific equipment and materials.

In a nutshell, biohazardous waste includes anything that is soaked in blood or bodily fluids or has come into contact with communicable diseases. While it sounds extreme, this includes common items such as diabetic testing supplies and old bandages, just to name a few. By placing materials like these in biohazard waste containers, you’re able to dispose of them safely, limiting exposure and contamination risks.

If you’re not sure if you need to invest in biohazard waste containers for your home or office, read our buying guide. We explain which materials require disposal this way and share some helpful tips on choosing the best container for your needs.

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Epinephrine allergy pens should be disposed of in biohazard waste containers, including used pens and expired pens.

Key considerations

What is considered biohazardous waste?

If you work in the medical or veterinary fields, you’re probably familiar with biohazardous waste. For the average person outside of these fields, however, it’s important to know what distinguishes regular waste from biohazardous waste. Here are the basics:

Materials soaked in blood or bodily fluids: Items soaked in blood or bodily fluids include those from humans as well as animals. Some of these materials are considered infectious waste, as they can spread diseases or pathogens. Common items in this category include bandages, dressing gowns, and single-use surgical towels.

Sharp hazardous waste: Sharp items are disposed of in biohazard waste containers not only to keep them safe prior to pickup but to limit exposure to biologically contaminated waste. This includes used needles, razor blades, and scalpels. In a laboratory setting, it also includes glass slides as well as select broken glass equipment.

Medication: Also called pharmaceutical waste, this includes unused as well as expired pills, drops, and vaccines. These containers, especially when they are placed at a well-known collection site, are outfitted with locks to combat theft.

Expert tip
I recommend a hazard waste container with a counterbalanced lid since this requires less handling time of sharp objects. A clear plastic lid is also good for viewing the fill level for timely disposal of the container.
BestReviews Medical Expert

Who uses biohazard waste containers?

Medical offices and facilities: The most common users of biohazard waste containers are medical offices and facilities. Veterinary clinics, offices of school nurses, and sometimes daycare centers have biohazard containers.

Most patient rooms have dedicated containers mounted to the wall. While it seems excessive, this is done to minimize contamination risk by providing an immediate receptacle for disposal, instead of carrying sharps and waste around wards.

Diabetics: Diabetic testing supplies shouldn’t be thrown in your trash can. Lancets, needles, and test strips all go into biohazard waste containers. Because they’re disposed of on a daily basis (sometimes multiple times per day), many diabetics invest in home containers.

Wound care patients: Those who manage chronic wound conditions may invest in biohazard waste containers for the home. Dressings are changed almost daily, and since they’re saturated with blood and other fluids, they must be placed in a biohazard waste container.

Pet owners: Pet owners — especially those who foster pets — may invest in biohazard waste containers. Many animals with special conditions require injections and post-surgical wound care and items must be disposed of appropriately.

Types of biohazard waste containers

Trash can styles: Biohazard waste containers are available in trash can styles. These are opened with a foot pedal for hands-free disposal. More often than not, they’re made of mostly metal components and are extremely durable. It’s best to dispose of soft materials in these containers as opposed to needles and other sharp objects.

A biohazard waste bag must be placed inside the container for sanitary reasons. These bags are specially made with reinforced detail to pass the FDA DART test. They’re usually red, marked with the biohazard symbol, and are significantly thicker than ordinary trash bags.

Containers with openings: Biohazard waste containers with openings are equipped with special lids that make disposal quick and easy. These are often called sharps containers. Rotary lids twist open to expose a modest opening to dispose of waste. Openings are generally smaller than your hand to discourage retrieval of inserted materials.

Unlike trash can styles, containers are made of plastic. Once the receptacle is filled, you’re able to dispose of the unit as a whole. This can be done through municipal waste management if they offer biohazard waste disposal, though it’s not offered everywhere. Another option is to sign up for a collection service, in which a private company picks up containers. Certain services provide boxes with prepaid mailing labels for shipping.

Expert tip
A single-use container is more convenient than a wastebasket that requires lining. There are also safety locks once the container is full to prevent tampering, which is not available for the wastebasket style.
BestReviews Medical Expert



The most common color for plastic biohazard waste containers is red. Metal trash can styles are also available in red, though it’s also common to see them in white or silver. No matter the color, it should be clearly marked with the biohazard symbol. If you feel the symbol is too small, you can affix a larger sticker to it.


For safety and sanitary reasons, biohazard waste containers must be puncture-resistant. As a result, their walls are thick and reinforced. In metal receptacles, walls are often made of galvanized steel. This quality also makes the containers, particularly plastic ones, somewhat less susceptible to exterior dents.

Safety standards

Biohazard waste containers must adhere to strict FDA guidelines for approval. If they don’t meet these stringent standards, including plastic grade, thickness, and closure safety, they’re simply considered trash cans

To make sure you’re buying an approved biohazard waste container, check the product details for specifications that read FDA-compliant, FDA-approved, or FDA-registered. Manufacturers can also provide details regarding their FDA approval if asked.


Biohazard waste containers come in all sorts of capacities, ranging from one-gallon to 10-gallon units. Mid-size units between two and four gallons are the most popular choice for home or small office use. Medical offices and facilities tend to gravitate toward larger-capacity models.


Biohazard waste trash bags: OakRidge Products Heavy-Duty 10-Gallon Biohazard Waste Bags
If you have a trash can-style biohazard waste container, you need biohazard trash bags. We like these from OakRidge Products, which have a safe X-seal bottom with a curved design to prevent bursting. Bags are also puncture-resistant and FDA-approved.

Medical exam gloves: Medacure ProCure Disposable Nitrile Gloves, 200-Count
If you’re handling biohazardous waste, it’s important to protect yourself with gloves. We like these from Medacure, which are latex- and powder-free. They have textured fingertips for improved grip and are even safe for handling food.

Biohazard waste container prices

Biohazard waste containers range in price from $4 to $100 based on their design and capacity.


Small containers including those smaller than two gallons cost $12 and below a piece. This mostly includes plastic sharps containers.


Mid-size containers range in price from $20 to $40 each, though there are some value sets of multiple containers in this price range. This bracket includes both trash can and plastic sharps styles.

Expert Tip
Contact a local biohazard pick-up service and discuss the pick-up schedule. If sharps are being picked up between longer time intervals, use a larger sharp container.
BestReviews Medical Expert


Large biohazard waste containers (closer to 10-gallon capacities) can cost $40 and above. This mostly includes galvanized steel trash can styles. If you’re willing to spend $40 and above for plastic sharps containers in bulk, you get the most bang for your buck.


  • Educate yourself on biohazardous waste. If you’re not sure what goes in biohazard waste containers, do your research. Look it up on the FDA and CDC websites, or contact the container’s manufacturer for more information.
  • Find out how to dispose of containers once they’re full. Since you’re not going to hold onto a container filled with biohazard waste indefinitely, you need to find a way to properly — and legally — dispose of it. When in doubt, contact your municipality for waste management, or reach out to your local EPA office.
  • Read the instructions before use. If you’re new to using biohazard waste containers, read the user manual thoroughly. It explains the basics, and while many instructions seem straightforward, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
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Gloves used during medical examinations and procedures should also be placed in biohazard waste containers.


Q. What does it mean when a biohazard waste container is marked safe to autoclave or incinerate?

A. It means these containers — namely plastic ones — can be safely burned or sterilized in a controlled environment that meets OSHA, FDA, and EPA standards. With that said, if you’re buying a biohazard waste container for home use, you’re not handling this late stage of waste management.

Q. Can I decorate my biohazard waste container?

A. It’s best to save your creative talents for other items. By leaving your biohazard waste container as it is with the biohazard symbol in clear view, you’re promoting overall safety and safe use. Being so out of place with other objects also means you’re less likely to accidentally throw regular garbage in it.

Q. I’m diabetic. Should I travel with my own biohazard waste container?

A. Yes, and there are small models that are well-suited for travel use. However, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to travel with a container filled with biohazardous waste. Research your destination to see if there are any local disposal options, either at the city level or privately through collection companies.

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