tattoo waste

Safe Disposal of Tattoo Waste: A Guide for Artists and Owners

Much of tattoo waste is medical waste, and that means that strict protocols are required when it comes to tattoo parlor waste disposal and management. 

For most people, a tattoo shop probably isn’t what comes to mind when they think of a medical facility. Yet, the waste produced in the creation of body art has a lot of overlap with various types of hazardous waste you’d find at a healthcare clinic or hospital, including needles and personal protective equipment (PPE). As a result, anyone running the shop has to be aware of how to meet safety and regulatory guidelines around tattoo waste, with serious penalties for those who fail to meet the mark. 

Tattoo Shop Cleaning Checklist: 2 Steps to Proper Disposal

No one gets into the tattoo business to get bogged down in operational protocols around waste disposal. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Follow this handy two-step tattoo shop cleaning checklist to make sure you’re covering all of the necessary bases involved in storing and disposing of hazardous waste in your shop. 

Step 1: Know What Constitutes Hazardous Waste

Tattoo waste includes a surprising number of items that constitute hazardous medical waste and need to be handled as such. This includes:

  • Needles (tattoo and piercing)
  • Needle covers
  • PPE
  • Ink caps
  • Leftover ink
  • Sterilants
  • Gauze and dressings
  • Cotton swabs

If you’re not sure if it’s considered hazardous waste, ask yourself if it’s a single-use item used in the creation or maintenance of body art. And if the answer is yes, handle it as you would any other type of medical waste

Step 2: Separate Your Waste

Waste disposal in a tattoo parlor requires designated receptacles for tossing and storing certain items. This includes a sharps container for needles, lancets, razors, or anything else used to pierce the skin. In addition to a sharps container, you also need a biohazard waste receptacle for items that may come into contact with bodily fluids during the creation of body art – i.e., PPE, dressings, etc. A biohazard receptacle must have a tight-fitting lid and be lined with a red moisture-, leak-, and puncture-resistant bag. 

Your sharps container and biohazard receptacle should be labeled and safely stored away until being transported to a qualified waste treatment facility. 

General Tattoo Waste Q&A

Tattoo parlor waste disposal isn’t complicated. It does, however, require a full understanding of the essentials so that you can ensure everything is above board. 

How to Dispose: Tattoo Needles?

Your sharps container will be the go-to receptacle for needles and their component parts, plus all other types of sharps. You can purchase an FDA-regulated sharps container, or make your own out of an empty detergent or gallon water bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Keep this container clearly marked and in an area where the public cannot access it. 

How to Dispose: Tattoo Ink?

Ink used in body art is considered medically hazardous, so it should be disposed of in your biohazard waste receptacle. The same goes for any items that come into contact with that ink, including ink cups and wipes. 

Who Transports and Disposes of Tattoo-Related Waste?

This is where we come in. Superior Waste Disposal offers full-service tattoo medical waste removal so you never have to worry about compliance with local or state regulations, including safe transport and disposal of your shop’s waste. Contact us to learn more about our waste disposal services and set up a custom pick-up schedule that works for you and your team.