Biohazardous waste disposal costs might not be at the top of budgetary scrutiny, but it can be a significant expense for generators. Facilities creating medical waste often struggle to set a budget for disposal services because of many unpredictable variables. While there is no definite formula for accurately predicting biohazard waste disposal cost, there are a number of factors to take into account when estimating medical waste disposal cost. Routinely reviewing your facilities expenditures and your disposal providers’ costs is an important part of making sure your resources are being properly allocated.

01   /  Medical Waste Costs Vary: Waste Management Contracts vs Service Agreements

One of the first factors to consider when conducting an audit of medical waste cost is to look at whether your provider works on a contract basis or another type of payment schedule. This can lead to a significant cost differential. If the waste management company uses contracts, the agreement will likely cover several years while charging a set monthly fee, no matter what your facility's waste disposal needs are.

However, if the waste management company uses a service agreement system, you will pay solely for the services your facility actually uses. For instance, if you have the company pick up boxes of medical waste, you would pay for the number of boxes they pick up. This means that rather than paying a set fee each month, your facility would spend less on waste disposal for the months it produces less waste.

Many medical facilities prefer service agreements because they tend to be less costly than contracts—but each situation is unique. Every facility should analyze what is most cost-efficient for its specific needs.

02   /   Potential Savings of Service Agreements

If your facility chooses a service agreement, the costs will be variable from month to month. Cost factors often include the location of the facility, frequency of pick-up, and volume of waste. You can use some numbers as guidelines to estimate what comparable facilities spend on waste disposal. A facility generally spends approximately $200 to $400 a month if it selects a waste management contract. In comparison, facilities utilizing a service agreement often pay $100 dollars less a month. For an average facility, this represents large savings each month.

Factors that Contribute to Biohazardous Waste Disposal Costs 

03   /   Exploring Biohazard Waste Disposal Pricing Per Box

An increasing number of facilities are choosing a service agreement model, and because of this, they are watching the factors that determine pricing for each box. Typically, providers measure using a thirty-gallon box in which red bag waste will be placed.

04   /   Comparing Providers’ Medical Waste Costs

No matter what company you are looking at, they will have a pricing system. Before you choose a company, you should inquire about multiple disposal providers and seek quotes to compare. This allows you to see which company best suits your needs and budget.

05   /    Location Matters When It Comes to Biohazard Waste Disposal Costs

The location of your facility is also a major determinant of what you will pay per box. Facilities in major metropolitan areas will often pay less than those in rural areas—sometimes considerably less. For example, a medical facility in Atlanta, Georgia may expect to pay about $20 to $45 per box, but these are averages. and an individual generator could expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $75 a box. 

Still, even when you factor in the extreme ends of the spectrum, as you’ll see, there is still a significant difference when you compare these costs to those of a similar facility located in a rural area. On average, a facility outside of Atlanta can expect to pay around $75 to $200 per box. Given that these figures are only averages, some rural facilities can expect to pay even more than this range.

The reason for this cost discrepancy is an easy one. Transportation costs form the reason for these differences. It is more costly for waste disposal companies to have a truck go to rural areas to pick up the waste, which means higher medical waste costs for rural facilities.

06   /    What is the Frequency of Your Medical Waste Pickup?

Another important factor that will help determine your biohazardous waste disposal costs is the frequency of pick-ups. Most facilities require monthly pick-ups, but it is possible to get weekly pick-ups for larger waste generators. However, weekly pick-ups generally cost more than monthly ones. In the end, the final cost depends on the volume of medical waste generated.

07   /    Volume Affects Medical Waste Cost

The volume of waste shipped by a facility can have a significant effect on biohazardous waste disposal costs. For example, most facilities will ship approximately two boxes a month, which will cost about $40 to $80 dollars a month in medical waste costs. But waste costs work on volume discount pricing, which means that smaller generators who ship fewer boxes will likely end up paying more. 

08  /    The Type of Waste You Generate Plays a Role in Medical Waste Costs

Once you ship your facility's medical waste, it is generally disposed of using one of two methods: medical waste autoclave and medical waste incineration. Red bag waste can be disposed of by using the autoclaving process. However, any pathological waste and trace chemotherapy waste must be disposed of through medical incineration. Medical incineration costs more than autoclaving. So, if your facility ships a large amount of medical waste requiring incineration, your biohazard waste disposal cost will be higher. There can be the opportunity for cost savings here. By properly sorting waste you can ensure that items which don’t require incineration are not packed with waste which does. Small steps like these can make a big impact on the biohazardous waste disposal costs over time. 

09   /    Partner with a Biohazardous Waste Disposal Expert to Control Costs and Create Value

With so many variables to consider, while remaining safe, compliant and responsible with your medical waste, it’s helpful to have the support of an experienced waste disposal expert. MCF Environmental Services can help your facility streamline its medical waste disposal process. To learn more about the cost of waste management, contact one of our knowledgeable representatives. We’re a trusted partner for medical waste facilities and an experienced provider of medical waste management services throughout the contiguous United States.

Robert Losurdo

President, COO