Biological waste is any material that has come in contact with or contains a biohazardous agent. In New York State, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) defines biohazardous or regulated medical waste (RMW) as “waste which is generated in the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in production and testing of biologicals”. It can include solid and liquid materials including, but not limited to, personal protective equipment * culture tubes, liquid cultures, and sharps. It is essential that biohazardous waste is recognized and proper waste disposal streams are followed.
Look at your supplies, equipment, and materials you plan to use. Work with r/sNA, biological toxins, human materials, needles, plasticware, and chemotherapeutics have a specific waste stream based on risks and regulations. Before starting your research, considering the waste stream can save time and money.
Follow the Guides
The EHS website contains resources on the Regulated Medical Waste Program, Laboratory Safety Manual and Chemical Hygiene Plan, Biological Safety Manual, and a Radiation Safety Manual, which will assist with identifying and properly disposing of waste. If unable to identify material using the guides – contact EHS via askEHS@cornell.edu or call 607-255-8200.
Request Pickups in Advance
Go to the EHS Waste Pickups page to request waste pickup
Think About the Next Person
Custodial staff, EHS personnel, CVM Waste Facility personnel, and Ithaca waste collectors will all potentially encounter the solid waste downstream. In addition, facilities personnel performing plumbing services, EHS personnel, wastewater treatment plant personnel, and the public can potentially contact liquid waste, whether it is poured down the drain or collected in a container. Be conscious of what is being disposed of and aware that it will likely be handled by numerous individuals downstream.
Label the Bag
There may be questions by individuals handling waste downstream; make sure that every container or bag of waste leaving the space is labeled with the name of the Principal Investigator, the section and lab information, and the phone number. Avery Labels are okay to use.
Things to Avoid
- Do not guess – Contact EHS: askEHS@cornell.edu if uncertain about the type of waste and how it should be handled.
- Do not mix – Contact EHS: askEHS@cornell.edu before mixing different types of waste (chemical, biological, and radiological) – it is difficult to dispose of mixed wastes, and doing it improperly can be expensive.
- Laboratory Waste Disposal Guide