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Waste Management

Laboratorians who generate biohazardous waste in the laboratory must ensure that the labeling, packaging, and intermediate disposal of waste conform to federal, state, and University regulations.  The appropriate packing of all waste is fundamental for ensuring protection of the handler, other laboratorians, custodial staff, others who handle waste and the community.  All biohazardous and infectious wastes require handling per the University Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) policies and procedures. Laboratorians should remember that:

  • No biohazardous waste receptacle (e.g. autoclave bag, sharps container, RMW container and liquid waste container) is filled more than three-fourths full prior to sealing and disposal.  to do so may result in injury and/or potential exposure.  Laboratorians are responsible for proper segregation and disposal of all waste.
  • Never attempt to retrieve anything that has been placed into a sharps container or other hazardous waste container.
  • All waste that comes out of an autoclave MUST be disposed of as RMW, even though it has been sterilized as autoclaved are not permitted by NY State to treat medical waste.

The following items usually are considered to be infectious waste:

  • Microbiological laboratory wastes, such as cultures derived from clinical specimens and pathogenic microorganisms, and laboratory equipment that has come into contact with them.
  • Tissues, liquid blood, and bodily fluid from humans.
  • Tissues, liquid blood, and bodily fluids from an animal that is carrying an infectious agent that can be transmitted to humans.
  • Contaminated sharps.
  • Any unused sharps, pipettes, or culture dishes
  • Other categories of waste that require decontamination before disposal are regulated materials such as recombinant organisms and exotic or virulent plant and animal pathogens.

Liquid Waste

Infectious liquids should be chemically disinfected with a disinfectant effective on the agents in use prior to disposal. Chemically disinfected liquid waste that contains hazardous or toxic waste should not be disposed of to sink drains. For sink disposal of properly treated infectious liquids, laboratorians should pour the liquid as close to the surface of the drain as possible to prevent the generation of droplets and aerosols. When the last of the properly treated infectious liquid is poured down the drain, follow it with copious amounts of tap water.  Disinfect or dispose of liquid waste receptacles into the RMW waste stream when they are no longer needed. Clean any splashes and spills around the sink area.

Chemical, Radiological, and Mixed Wastes

Those working in laboratories should contact EH&S for the proper disposal of all mixed wastes.  Wastes containing a mixture of hazardous biological, chemical, or radioactive materials must be evaluated on a case by case basis. Generally, mixed waste, hazardous chemical and radioactive materials take precedence over biological hazards and special handling is required. Extreme caution must be used when treating waste that is co-contaminated with volatile, toxic, or carcinogenic chemicals, radioisotopes, or explosive substances.  Under no circumstances are chemicals or radioisotopes to be disposed of in the sanitary sewer or regular waste stream.  Autoclaving this type of waste may release hazardous materials or dangerous gases into the air.  Such waste should be segregated for special disposal as directed by EH&S.


Regulated Medical Waste training (EH&S course ENV 005) is required for all persons generating RMW and those responsible for the transportation of RMW to a holding or collection area.

For additional information please refer to the EH&S Hazardous Waste web page for RMW.