Biological waste is biological material generated from research, diagnostic, and/or teaching activities during manipulation or clean- up, regardless of its potential to infect humans, plants or animals that is/are no longer useful.
Biowaste may not be disposed of in the regular trash. Common examples include:
- Materials contaminated or potentially contaminated during the manipulation or clean-up of material generated during research, diagnostic, and/or teaching activities requiring Biosafety Level 1, 2, or 3, animal or plant Biosafety Level 1, 2, or 3, or liquid blood and body fluids.
- Materials contaminated with human/primate tissue or human/primate tissue cultures (primary and established) because these are handled at BSL-2.
- Animal blood, fluids and bedding from animals infected with agents requiring BSL2 and BSL3 containment.
- Transgenic materials or animals.
- Biohazard sharps containers.
Collection and Storage
Biowaste may not be disposed of in the regular trash. It should be collected in red, hard-walled biohazard waste collection containers not to exceed 15 gallons and lined with a clear autoclavable bag.
- Use clear biohazard bags for autoclaving. The red/orange biohazard bags are no longer allowed at NC State. These biohazard bags may not be placed in regular dumpsters or trash receptacles, even when disinfected.
- The lid must remain on the container when not in use (e.g., overnight, etc.). The lid and container each must bear the biohazard symbol with the word “Biohazard.” Biowaste containers including biohazard sharps containers should only be filled 2/3 full.
- One example is a red 5 gallon bucket with a lid that has biohazard labels prominently posted on both the bucket and the lid. Other examples available from the MarketPlace are listed here; please contact the EHS biosafety office if you have suggestions for updating this list.
- Liquid biological waste such as spent culture media should never be allowed to sit for longer than 24 hours.
- Refer to this Biowaste Disposal Chartto help manage your biowaste streams including sharps.
Biowaste generated at NC State University in Raleigh must be treated using a validated and/or IBC approved treatment method prior to disposal in designated red dumpsters. This typically involves chemical or autoclave treatment prior to disposal.
Solids Treatment Options:
- (Preferred) Autoclave the material according to Chapter 8 “Biowaste Management” of the NC State Laboratory Biosafety Manual
- Chemical disinfection practices must be appropriate for the material being disinfected. See Disinfection section of Chapter 7 in the NC State Laboratory Biosafety Manual.
- Contact EHS through the EHSA waste pick up portal. See “Disposal” section below.
Liquids Treatment Options:
- (Preferred) Use the liquid cycle to autoclave the liquid according to Chapter 8 “Biowaste Management” of the NC State Laboratory Biosafety Manual.
- Chemical disinfection of liquid biowaste (e.g. bleach treatment) must be appropriate for the material being disinfected. See Disinfection section of Chapter 7 in the NC State Laboratory Biosafety Manual.
Using an Autoclave
Review Autoclaves for set up and training requirements
Autoclave Waste Validation
Compliance with state law and local authorities dictates at NC State University that all biowaste be treated for a minimum of 45 minutes at 121oC (250oF) at 15 psi. Each load of biowaste processed in an autoclave must meet these operating conditions and be tested according to the Autoclave Performance Verification procedure located in the NC State University Laboratory Biosafety Manual .
Items that cannot be autoclaved
- Preservatives or Chemicals-If waste tissue is held in a liquid preservative (formaldehyde/formalin, Carosafe, alcohol, etc…) or has been treated with a hazardous chemical, the tissues and liquid must be separated and submitted separately for disposal (see below). The preservative/hazardous chemical is handled as chemical waste and cannot be disposed via sanitary sewer systems.
- No Autoclave Available- For instances when biowaste may not be autoclaved, submit for pick-up in EHSA. EH&S picks up biowaste on an as-needed basis once submitted. This may be appropriate if an autoclave or other means of treatment is unavailable. This solid waste must be double-bagged in 3 mil plastic bags and weigh less than 25 pounds. It must be tied shut/closed and remain in a secondary container until collected.
- Examples of non-autoclavable biowaste include animal carcasses/identifiable tissues, and biologicals treated with radioactive materials. Additional considerations for waste that should not be autoclaved, are available on the Raleigh Campus Biowaste Disposal Flow Chart.
- Once appropriately treated transfer the closed treated biowaste bag into the nearest Red Dumpster. These bags should have your lab’s initials and the date of treatment.
- Autoclaved sharps containers must be picked up by EH&S. Once autoclaved, and you are ready to have the container removed from your laboratory, submit for pick up via EHSA (go.ncsu.edu/ehsa).
- Red Dumpsters are clearly labeled for this purpose and located near the larger solid waste (trash) dumpsters outside of buildings containing autoclaves.
- If a Red Dumpster is not available:
Non-Infectious Biological Waste
- All solid biological waste must be placed in a lined fiberboard drum/box provided by EHS. The container should be kept closed except when adding or removing material.
- Once you are ready to have the container removed from your laboratory, submit for pick up via EHSA (go.ncsu.edu/ehsa). Scheduled pickups can be set up to minimize the time material is sitting in the laboratory.
- EHS personnel will come to your laboratory to remove the waste. A replacement container will be left in the laboratory.
- Once the material is picked up from campus locations, it is consolidated at the EHS Waste Facility into Red Cubic Yard Bins. Once the bin is full, it is taken to the CBC campus for transport and incineration by the Biological Waste Contractor.
- EHS only collects animal carcasses from Main and Centennial Campuses.
- For large carcasses or a large number of animals, please contact EHS, env–health–haz–firstname.lastname@example.org, to coordinate for a Red Bin to be dropped at your location prior to culling for ease of disposal.
- Other frozen carcasses, tissues, and etc., laboratory personnel should submit the carcasses for pick up via EHSA.
- On the day of the pick up, the frozen material should be transferred by laboratory personnel to the EHS provided fiberboard drum/box.
- EHS personnel will come to your laboratory to remove the filled container. A replacement container will be left in the laboratory.
- Once the material is picked up, it is consolidated at the EHS Waste Facility into Red Cubic Yard Bins. Once the bin is full, it is taken to the CBC campus for transport and incineration by the Biological Waste Coordinator.
Tissues in Preservative
- Waste tissue in a liquid preservative (formaldehyde/formalin, Carosafe, alcohol, etc…) must be separated and submitted separately for disposal via EHSA.
Other helpful info on Biowaste
- Leaded Autoclave Tape
- CVM Biowaste
Biowaste generators at CBC/CVM (Vet school) do not submit their biowastes for pick-up through EHSA. They can dispose of them directly by carrying them over to the orange/red biowaste roll off dumpsters located at necropsy, and fill out the paperwork there required by the Vet school for biowaste disposal.
- General Guidance
For general guidance regarding the above topics, more information can be found in Chapter 8 “Biowaste Management” in the NC State Laboratory Biosafety Manual . For questions, contact the biosafety staff in Environmental Health and Safety.