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History of the Medical Waste Tracking Act

October 5, 2021

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History of the Medical Waste Tracking Act

History of the Medical Waste Tracking Act. Proper disposal of bio-medical waste is something Healthcare Waste Management takes very seriously, meeting and exceeding industry regulations and constantly working to make the process as safe and efficient as possible.  Unfortunately not everybody does or has done the same.

In 1988, Congress enacted the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988, a United States federal law that addressed the handling and disposal of medical waste in coastal areas.  The beginnings of this law sprouted on August 13, 1987 when numerous beaches on the New Jersey and New York shores were closed due to an extensive, almost thirty-mile-long, mass of medical and household wastes that overtook the shore.

It was eventually determined that the probable source of the mass originated from the New York City marine transfer stations as well as the Southwest Brooklyn incinerator and transfer station.  It appeared to be intentional and that sealed plastic garbage bags containing biomedical waste were cut open and disposed of into the ocean, so the companies could avoid paying the cost-per-ton associated with disposing the waste in a law-abiding manner.

The purpose of the act was to monitor the process of medical waste disposal, from generation, to transportation, to destruction.  Penalties, depending on the specific violation, ranged from fines of $25,000/day to millions of dollars and prison time.  The program lasted two years, then was withdrawn on June 21, 1991.  The current regulatory rules are under the responsibility of each individual state.  They range from being very strict regulations, to having no regulations at all.

HWM is motivated by stories like these to implement and display an unmatched commitment to the environment.  These stories also show the cost that our industry can have on the environment, which is why we go the extra mile to ensure environmental protection, from our industry-leading reusable sharps containers, to our use of paperless fax, we make sure to utilize the most Eco-friendly options available.

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