Biological Waste Guide
Laboratory Waste Disposal Guide
Waste is considered Contaminated with a Biohazard if it contains or is potentially contaminated with human infectious agents, viral vectors used with human and animal cell culture, biologically-derived toxins, human blood and body fluids, all human and animal cell cultures, or fluids and tissues from infected animals.
Waste is considered Contaminated with Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid (r/sNA) if any recombinant or synthetic nucleic acids or genetically modified organisms (e.g., bacteria, plants, insects, and animals) are present. If also infectious, refer to Biohazard column.
Waste is considered Contaminated with Other Biologicals if the contents are not infectious to humans or animals, and are not considered r/sNA. It contains or is potentially contaminated with environmental microorganisms, plant and insect pathogens, or plant tissue cultures. If contaminated with chemical residue, refer to “Chemical” column.
Waste is considered Contaminated with Chemicals if disposable items have residual amounts of non-acutely toxic chemicals only (e.g., phenol, chloroform, acrylamide, xylene). For acutely toxic waste items, including the original containers from manufacturer, consult the Hazardous Waste Manual or contact EHS. Ethidium bromide-contaminated waste must be deactivated or collected as chemical waste by EHS.
Waste is considered Contaminated with Chemotherapeutics if disposable items contain residual amounts of substances used to imitate a biochemical response in tissue culture or in animals, including: antineoplastic agents (e.g., cisplatin, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide); hormones or hormone-like drugs (e.g., estrogens, tamoxifen); synthetic analogs and other carcinogens (e.g., BrdU).
Acid (r/sNA) B
Other Biological C
Syringes with needles (For your safety do not remove needles from syringes unnecessarily) Scalpel blades, Needles, Glass blood vials, Glass, Pasteur pipettes
|Red Sharps Disposal Container into Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) Bin||Yellow Sharps Disposal Container into RMW Bin|
|Other Sharps:1 Serological pipettes, Micropipette tips Swabs, sticks
Glass slides, cover slips, Glass vials with agar slant, Broken or intact glassware, Broken plasticware, Razor blades, Syringes without needles
|Red Sharps Disposal Container into RMW Bin||Red Sharps Disposal Container into RMW Bin - - - - - - - OR - - - - - - -
Puncture Resistant Container Autoclave into Regular Trash
|Puncture Resistant Container into Regular Trash||Yellow Sharps Disposal Container into RMW Bin|
|Disposable Non-Sharps: Intact plasticware, Plastic petri dishes with agar, Gloves, disposable gowns, Bench paper and towels, Animal bedding||Red Biohazard Bag into RMW Bin||Red Biohazard Bag into RMW Bin
- - - - - - - OR - - - - - - -
Clear Bag Autoclave into Regular Trash
|Clear Bag into Regular Trash||Yellow Biohazard Bag into RMW Bin|
|Plant Materials: Plants Seeds, Used potting media, Plant cultures||Red Biohazard Bag into RMW Bin||Red Biohazard Bag into RMW Bin
- - - - - - - OR - - - - - - -
Autoclave Into Regular Trash or Compost
|Regular Trash or Compost - If regulated plant material, autoclave or otherwise inactivate before disposal.||Consult hazardous waste manual or Contact EHS||Yellow Biohazard Bag into RMW Bin|
|Carcasses and Tissues: Animal and human tissues (Paraffin blocks with fixed tissue can go directly to trash) For human cadaver wastes contact EHS||Red Biohazard Bag into RMW
or Designated Carcass Bin
|Clear Bag into RMW or Designated Carcass Bin||Consult hazardous waste manual
Or Contact EHS
|Yellow Biohazard Bag into RMW Bin|
|Liquid Waste: Liquid media and cultures aspirated or decanted from flasks and dishes
Solutions of biological toxins
must be inactivated3
|Treat with disinfectant (e.g., 1:10 dilution of household bleach) or Autoclave, then dispose down the drain with a large volume of water||Consult hazardous waste manual or Contact EHS|
Hazardous chemicals mixed with biohazard waste Radioisotopes mixed with infectious materials
|Consult appropriate waste manual or Contact EHS before generating such waste|
Non-glass biohazard items that can puncture bags (e.g., plastic pipettes, micropipette tips, swabs and sticks) may be placed in a puncture resistant container (e.g., cardboard box lined with biohazard plastic bag, biohazard labeled recycled plastic container) or manufactured “burn-up bin”. Serological pipettes can puncture bags when randomly mixed with other disposable items in plastic biohazard bags. Bundle the serological pipettes into a plastic sleeve conveniently placed inside the biohazard bag, which organizes them and prevents them from puncturing the outer red biohazard bag.
- Separate carcasses and tissues from other disposable items (e.g., plastic and paper) whenever possible. Decant liquid away from carcasses, and dispose of the liquid appropriately (e.g., formalin and ethanol as chemical waste through EHS, buffer solutions as biohazard liquid waste). Coordinate with animal facility manager, especially with large animal carcasses.
- Toxin Inactivation - below are commonly used inactivation procedures, though they may not be suitable for your particular toxin. Consult the product information sheet for your biological toxin for specific instructions on inactivation:
- Autoclave, if heat labile (steam at ≥121C for 1 hour, up to 1 liter volume), or
- Treat with NaOCl (sodium hypochlorite) at 1 – 2.5% (w/v) for 30 minutes (commercially available bleach solutions typically contain 3 – 6% (w/v) NaOCl, or Treat with NaOH (sodium hydroxide) at 1N for 30 minutes, or
- Treat with a combination of 0.25% NaOCl and 0.25N NaOH for 30 minutes or treat with another recognized inactivating solution.
- Dispose of the inactivated toxin solution down the drain with a large volume of water. You must neutralize solutions with a pH outside the range 5.5 to 9.5 before disposal. Lastly, you can dispose of active biological toxins as chemical waste through EHS. Any further questions, contact
EHS Questions about Waste Disposal? Call EHS! 607-255-8200, or send your question to askEHS
To schedule a pickup of biohazardous, chemotherapeutic, or hazardous wastes, go to: Waste Pickups.