2.5 Waste handling

Waste-management procedures must comply with all pertinent local or national requirements and regulations. Waste is anything that is to be discarded. The overriding principle in minimizing risks from waste is that all infectious materials should be decontaminated, incinerated, prepared to be buried or autoclaved. Discard bags should be used to segregate waste. Most glassware, instruments and laboratory clothing will be reused or recycled.

The principal questions to be asked before any objects or materials are removed from a laboratory are:

  • Have the objects or materials been effectively decontaminated or disinfected using proper procedures?
  • If not, have they been packaged in a closed container or bag for immediate onsite incineration or autoclaving?
  • Does the disposal of the decontaminated material involve any additional potential hazards or risks, biological or otherwise, to those who carry out the disposal procedures or who might come into contact with the items outside the facility?

Incineration is useful for disposing of laboratory waste, regardless of whether it has been decontaminated. Incinerating infectious materials is an alternative to autoclaving only if the laboratory manager can ensure that proper incineration procedures are followed. 

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