Waste or trash placed in wastebaskets is picked up by Housekeeping personnel, transferred to dumpsters and transported to the sanitary landfill for burial. Prohibited items from the sanitary waste stream include batteries, liquid wastes, radioactive wastes, and hazardous wastes as defined by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), poisons, biohazardous wastes, and other wastes that would pose a threat to the health and safety waste-handling personnel or the environment.

Broken Glass and Other Sharp Objects

Place uncontaminated and/or decontaminated glassware and non-regulated sharp objects in a plastic bag within a cardboard box identified with a label indicating: “CAUTION, GLASS AND SHARPS, and NON-HAZARDOUS WASTE ONLY“. You can download these labels from the EHS Safety Labels webpage. EHS recommends this manner for disposal of all glass items. Housekeeping will pick up these boxes if they are sealed.

Figure 12.6
Disposal boxes for non-contaminated glassware or non-regulated sharp objects.

Regulated Sharps

North Carolina law requires special handling of hypodermic needles, razor blades, scalpels, lancets, syringes with/without needles, slide covers, and specimen tubes. Please dispose of these items in a hard-walled waste container. At UNC-CH research laboratories, biohazardous sharps are collected in red, plastic containers available from Fisher Scientific (stock # 14830124 for contaminated, 1482664B for non-contaminated). These containers must bear the biohazard symbol and marked with an “x” using autoclave indicator tape. Federal OSHA regulations (29 CFR 1910.1030, Bloodborne Pathogens) require biohazard laboratories to minimize their use of sharps whenever possible and that needles not be recapped, purposely bent, broken, or otherwise manipulated by hand. To avoid accidents and prevent overfilling of the sharps waste containers, remove the waste containers for disposal when they are 2/3 full. When removing the sharps container from a biosafety cabinet, always decontaminate the exterior of the container. Containers of sharps contaminated with biohazardous waste materials should be autoclaved inside of an orange autoclavable bag marked with autoclave indicator tape forming an “x” over the bag’s biohazard symbol. After autoclaving is complete, the bags with the containers of sharps can be disposed of with the regular trash. Non-hazardous sharps should be placed in the white plastic sharps container. The non-hazardous sharps containers should be disposed of in regular trash once they are 2/3 full.

Figure 12.7
Sharps Disposal Containers: Non Hazardous Sharps; Biohazardous Sharps; Sharps Disposal

Other Regulated Sharps

Place broken glass and other sharps contaminated with carcinogens or radioactive material in the containers provided for these waste streams. Metal cans are not suitable for sharps contaminated with trace carcinogens or short-lived radioactive material, since these wastes are incinerated. Plastic-walled containers with tight-fitting lids are appropriate for disposal of these waste streams.

For long-lived radioactive materials, any type of hard-walled container is suitable. Refer to the UNC Radiation Safety Manual for radioactive sharps disposal procedures.