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How to Dispose of Waste Material in a Microbiology Lab

Updated May 31, 2017

Waste produced by microbiology labs often contains harmful material that should not be exposed to the environment. Different types of waste are divided into lab trash, biological and chemical. Each of these items follows a specific disposal procedure to limit costs and impact on the environment. Any possibly contaminated surface will need to the cleaned before placing into the appropriate disposal bin. Waste may be processed within the laboratory or sent off-site to be taken care of. Your local disposal company will have rules and rates to take care of biological waste.

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  1. Put on the appropriate size protective gloves before handling any contaminated material.

  2. Place contaminated material into an autoclave bag. Cover the biohazard symbol with a piece of autoclave tape before starting the cycle.

  3. Place the bag into the autoclave, temperature should be at least 121 degrees Celsius and pressure at least 15 psi.

  4. Set the timer for at least 30 minutes and run the sterilizer.

  5. Take out the bag and place in another, larger sealed bag for disposal.

  6. Put on the appropriate size protective gloves before handling any contaminated material.

  7. Prepare either a bleach solution diluted with water (1:10) or 70% isopropyl alcohol.

  8. Immerse the contaminated material in one of the solutions for at least 3 minutes.

  9. Drain the disinfected items then place into the appropriate waste container.

  10. Obtain suitable disposal containers from your local disposal company.

  11. Use a protective liner for each container. Place contaminated items in the container, weighing not more than 18.1 Kilogram each.

  12. Tie each liner and fully close each container.

  13. Write the name of the laboratory, contact information and what items are in the container on the outside of the box.

  14. Place all contaminated items in a secure area. Contact your disposal company to arrange a pickup of the contaminated items.

  15. Tip

    Liquid waste can be disposed of in a sink after chemical disinfection. Contact your local waste management company for more information.


    Decontaminate all hard surfaces using a chemical disinfectant to prevent the spread of potentially harmful pathogens.

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Things You'll Need

  • Protective gloves
  • Autoclave bags
  • Autoclave tape
  • Autoclave
  • Bleach
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol

About the Author

Based out of Reno, Nev., Andrew Youngker has been writing since 2007. He writes articles for various websites, covering cooking and education. Youngker is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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