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Biohazardous Waste and Autoclaving

Biohazardous Waste

Biohazardous waste that falls under the state regulatory authority is termed "Regulated Medical Waste" and encompasses all the wastes that are generated from work with infectious agents and human derived materials. Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) is regulated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ).

Examples include:

  • Culture plates and stocks of microorganisms Human Blood, body fluids, tissues (unfixed) Human tissue cultures (unfixed) Items saturated or caked with human blood or body fluids that would release blood or body/fluids in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed or would flake if handled.
  • Other infectious wastes with the "potential to cause disease".

You will find the following on this page:



One of the most effect methods for the decontamination of biohazardous or infectious material is by steam sterilization. When autoclaving, specific requirements must be met in order to ensure proper inactivation of pathogenic materials.

These include:

  • Use of appropriate cycle time and temperature
  • Use of monthly validation (biological indicator)
  • Use of autoclave log

Specific Requirements for Decontamination by Autoclaving are provided in the
IBC's Policy on Autoclaving.

Autoclaving Safely Training

Available online here.


Biohazardous Waste Handling

Solid RMW (other than sharps) may be autoclaved in the lab in clear autoclave bags and then disposed of as regular trash.

Alternatively, if an autoclave is not available, solid infectious waste may be disposed of directly into a UVa RMW Contaminated Materials Container (CMC) where it will be removed by a licensed waste contractor*. These containers must be lined with UVa labeled (i.e., UVa address, phone number and biohazard symbol) red bags. Once a CMC is full, the top must be taped closed and properly labeled with the generator's name, building, room number, phone extension, date and waste type (e.g., cell culture).


Contaminated Material Containers (CMCs) and Sharps Containers Program

CMCs are for infectious waste and other Regulated Medical Waste (RMW). CMCs are ultimately treated at an off-site facility that accepts RMW.

  • Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) provides 4 cu. ft. or "large" CMCs for all research laboratories.
    • Cardboard liner is NOT required for the CMC (red bags are still required to line the box).
    • Weight limit of 30 lbs. (do not overfill, see pink sticker below).
    • Rooms will be stocked weekly to promote responsible consumption of supplies.
    • Housekeepers will pick up the CMCs (taping and labeling remain the same).
    • Contact Jim Reese at, Ericka Pearce at or call Environmental Health & Safety at 434-982-4911.

If your CMC is improperly prepared or too heavy, Housekeepers will notify you by placing this pink label on the box.

ATTN: Your CMC box was not pick up because:
X Improperly packaged/labeled
X Overweight (30 lb. weight limit)
Questions? Call EHS at 434-982-4911

For boxes that are overweight (> 30 lbs.), laboratorians will be responsible for taking their own box to the designated CMC Drop Off location (see below).

Please be considerate of your fellow researchers and only take the number of CMCs and bags necessary for that day or week.

Drop off locations will be stocked weekly to ensure that supplies are not disproportionately consumed.

The new 4 cu. ft. or "large" CMCs, are available free of charge at the following locations:

  • Aurbach - Room 1241
  • Cobb - Sub Basement Cabinet
  • Jordan - Room G240
  • MR4 - Loading Dock Supply Cabinet
  • MR5 - Room G0373
  • MR6 - Room G053
  • Snyder - Room 171C

Please note that SMALL (2.0 ft3) CMCs will still be available for purchase through the Hospital Store Room.

CMC Drop Off locations (> 30 lbs., otherwise CMCs will be removed by Building Services - UVa Housekeeping)

  • Aurbach - Room 1241
  • Cobb – Outside Bin (loading dock)
  • Jordan - Room G240
  • MR4 – Outside Bin (Loading dock/ramp outside vivarium)
  • MR5 - Room G043 loading dock
  • MR6 - Room G053
  • Snyder - Room 171C

Other Locations not listed above

  • Gilmer, Chemistry & Other Academic buildings (outside the Medical Center) - use this online form or call EHS at 434-982-4911, to schedule the pick up of RMW waste and delivery of empty containers.
  • West Complex: Research labs in the Multistory or Old Medical School Building are provided red step-on containers and sharps containers. Regulated Medical Waste is picked up (both redbags and sharps containers) by Hospital Environmental Services housekeepers. If you have questions about RMW disposal, please contact Environmental Services at 924-5162.

Contaminated Material Container (CMC)


Specific Waste Types and Disposal Methods


Biohazardous Tissue Culture Waste

If the material is contaminated with human blood, blood products tissue or any human or non human primate cell line (primary or commercially acquired) it is Regulated Medical Waste (RMW).

Materials may include contaminated plastic pipette tips, serological pipettes, and disposable labware other than sharps (flasks). RMW must be autoclaved or put into Contaminated Materials Container (CMC).


Human Body Fluids

These waste materials are considered RMW. Where possible, these RMW should be disinfected with sodium hypochlorite and carefully poured into a designated flush receptacle (or sink), followed by copius amounts of water.



Examples of "Sharps" that must always be placed in red plastic sharps containers . It does not matter whether or not the material is contaminated with microorganisms or human-derived materials:

  • Needles
  • Syringes with needles
  • Suture needles
  • Scalpels or Lancets

Other items that could puncture skin are deemed "Sharps" and are placed in red plastic sharps containers when contaminated with microorganisms or human derived materials:

  • (Contaminated) glass Pasteur pipettes
  • (Contaminated) capillary tubes
  • (Contaminated) slides or coverslips
  • (Contaminated) items likely to break during transportation and result in a point/sharp edge
Sharps container disposal
  1. When the Sharps container is ¾ full, it must be closed/secured (lid "clicks").
  2. Submit a pick up request online at our website or contact EHS to request a waste pick up by calling 434-982-4911.
  3. EHS personnel will pick up, at your lab, any size sharps container, but note that only 2-gallon Sharps container replacements are provided by EHS.

Below is a flier, which can be posted in your lab,
that describes these Sharps container disposal changes.

pdf | doc

*Note: Researchers in Patient Care Areas (Main Hospital) or the West Complex will disregard these changes. All services (RMW pick ups) provided by Hospital Environmental Services will continue. Please contact EHS at 434-982-4911 if you have questions.

Sharps in CMCs no longer required!

EHS picks up Sharp containers directly from your lab!

2-gallon Sharps containers provided by EHS.

Other laboratory glassware that is otherwise non-contaminated should be disposed of as "Waste Laboratory Glassware" (see section below)


Human cadavers and/or body parts

Human cadavers and recognizable human body parts require special handling. Please contact EHS Biosafety at 434-982-4911 for guidance.


"Hospital Like" waste (that can be disposed of as regular trash)

Examples of this material include:

  • IV tubing and bags without blood or sharps
  • Emptied containers without blood: (pleurovacs, hemovacs, urine or stool cups, Foley and ostomy bags, bedpans, urinals, emesis basins, suction canisters and tubing, etc)


Animal Bedding and Animal Cages

All used animal bedding and cages must be returned to the vivarium. Cages used for animals that were intentionally infected with microorganisms, inoculated with human-derived materials or otherwise considered ABSL-2, must be autoclaved before returning them to the vivarium for bedding disposal and cage cleaning.

If researchers do not have access to an autoclave, then cages must be bagged in autoclavable bag clearly labeled with the biohazard symbol and dropped off at a place designated by the Vivarium Manager.


Animal Carcasses, Biohazardous, or ABSL-2 carcasses

Carcasses and associated tissues, body parts, blood or other animal body fluids are those that have been intentionally infected with organisms pathogenic to humans; inoculated with human derived tissues, fluids or cell lines; or euthanized animals previously held at ABSL-2 containment or higher.

These carcasses must be put in red plastic bags and sealed before transfer to the designated vivarium storage area biohazardous waste containers located in the vivaria cold room or freezer.


Regular or uncontaminated carcasses (i.e., not containing hazardous chemical, biological or radiological materials)

Carcasses intended for immediate disposal should be placed in green or black plastic bags and put into the waste containers located in the vivarium cold room or freezer. Similarly, uncontaminated animal tissues, body parts, blood and materials visibly contaminated with animal blood (e.g., gauze) must be placed into a non-transparent plastic bag. These may be the same green or black plastic bags used for carcasses and put into the biomedical waste containers located in the vivarium cold room or freezer.

For information on radioactive animal carcasses go here.

For general information on carcass disposal see this IACUC policy.


Broken Glassware, Waste Laboratory Glassware (WLG)

If they DO NOT contain or ARE NOT contaminated with Radioactive Material (any amount), Chemicals (more than a trace amount) or Infectious Material (any amount), then these waste materials are Waste Laboratory Glassware (WLG).

WLG must be put into any ordinary cardboard box, lined with a regular trash bag. Once full, the bag top should be twisted and taped closed, the box top taped shut, and a WLG label (see photo below) applied to the box top. These waste materials will be treated as regular trash. Contact EHS at 434-982-4911 for WLG labels.

These labeled boxes should either be carried directly to the trash receptacle outside of your building, or set outside your lab door for UVa Facilities Management Housekeeping personnel to pick up.