Northwestern Office for Research


Biological/Infectious Waste

We've made it easy for you to dispose of your regulated medical waste by providing bins and carts for your red bags. There is no longer any need to autoclave this type of waste, and it should never be placed into the dumpsters. There are some simple rules you need to follow in order to maximize safety and compliance with DOT and EPA regulations. A regulated medical waste means a waste that contains an infectious substance and is generated in a) the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals, b) research pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals, or c) the production or testing of biological products.

  1. Do not put anything in your red bag that is not a regulated medical waste as defined above. Human body parts and animal carcasses are prohibited. The Center for Comparative Medicine handles all animal carcasses. Containers that previously held infectious materials but which have been treated by autoclaving or chemical disinfection do not need to be collected.

  2. Do not place any free liquids in your red bag, including blood. Red bags are intended only for solid regulated medical waste. Autoclaved liquids may be disposed of down the drain. Blood may be disposed of by pouring it down the drain.

  3. Red bags must be securely closed to prevent the contents from escaping. Twist the top of the bag and tie it in a knot, or use tape or a twist tie. Seal the red bag with a minimum of entrapped air.

  4. All sharps, glass Pasteur pipets and glass slides must be contained in a primary puncture proof sharps container. Disposable plastic pipets and pipet tips should be collected in a plastic bag that is then placed into a box which is then sealed. The box can then be placed into a collection bin or cart.

  5. Red bags may not weigh more than 10kg or 22lbs.

  6. Do not place chemical or radioactive waste of any kind, or regular trash, into a red bag.

  7. Identify the red bag or sharps box. Use a marker pen to write your PI's name and lab number on the bag or box.

  8. Place the red bag into the bin carefully to minimize breakage.

Thank you for helping us to maximize safety and to comply with the rules and regulations of DOT, EPA, and the waste hauler. Please contact ORS with any questions about what should be placed into red bags or how to handle it.

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