Biologically Contaminated Waste

Updated March 15, 2016


Examples: cultures, supernatants, media.

Use chemical disinfectant, such as bleach or wescodyne.  Add to appropriate concentration.  The concentration will depend on the disinfectant and the amount of liquid waste.  For bleach, the final concentration should be 10% (e.g., add one part bleach to nine parts liquid waste).  For wescodyne, the final concentration should be 1%.  Let waste sit for twenty minutes after addition of disinfectant.  Pour down the drain.  Please note that not all chemical disinfectants are approved for sink disposal.

For aspiration of liquid waste, see Vacuum Line Protection for proper setup


Examples: pipet tips, needles, syringes, razor blades, glass slides, glass vials or anything that can puncture the skin.

Biologically contaminated sharps should be collected in Stericycle puncture-resistant sharps container labeled with a biohazard sticker.  When container is filled to fill line on the side, close lid completely and secure with a zip tie.  Pickup procedures and schedule may vary depending on location. Contact your biosafety officer or email to learn about the procedures for your location.

MIT Bio Lab Sharps Disposal poster


Examples: plastic plates, petri dishes, paper towels, gloves.

Biologically contaminated solid waste is either autoclaved prior to disposal in the regular waste stream or placed in a burn box and removed by EHS.  Solid waste to be autoclaved should be collected in a clear autoclave bag which has no biohazard symbol/ markings and which is used to line an appropriate leakproof waste container marked with the universal biohazard symbol.  See Autoclaving your Waste and Autoclave Valdiation Poster for more information.

If your lab uses burn boxes, complete the Biological Waste Pickup Form to request removal of a full box.

Special lab wastes

Animals, human materials, mixed (chemical, biological, radioactive) waste, recombinant plants