Biological Waste Disposal

This information is intended to provide guidance and ensure compliance with the State of Florida Administrative Code 64E-16NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules and the recommendations in the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.

Biological and Biomedical Waste

Biological waste is any solid or liquid waste that may present a threat of infection to humans, animals, crops or the natural ecosystem. All items that contain, or are contaminated with any of the following, must be disposed of as biological waste:

  • Human, animal, or plant pathogens
  • Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acids and recombinant organisms
  • Laboratory and clinical waste containing or contaminated with, blood, blood products, tissues and cells from humans or nonhuman primates and other potentially infectious material as described in the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen standard.
  • Cultures (tissues, cells, bacteria, viruses, etc.)

Biomedical waste is a specific subset of biological waste which refers to any solid or liquid waste, including discarded medical sharps, that may pose a threat of infection to humans.   All waste discarded in this manner must be handled per the State of Florida Department of Health regulations (Chapter 64E-16, Florida Administrative Code) concerning Biomedical Waste. 

All biological waste must be inactivated prior to leaving the facility. The preferred method is steam sterilization (autoclaving),), although chemical inactivation of liquid waste (i.e. treatment with household bleach) may be appropriate in some cases.

Storage of all biomedical waste is restricted to within the generating laboratory and is limited to 30 days. The 30-day period starts when the first non-sharps waste item is placed into a red bag or sharps container, or when a sharps container containing only sharps is sealed.

Solid, Non-Sharp Biological Waste

All infectious/potentially infectious solid waste must be stored in a leak-proof, covered container lined with a red autoclave bag. This waste must be autoclaved prior to placing it in the red bag lined biomedical waste box.  Best practice is to autoclave this waste at the end of each work day, but at a minimum, it must be autoclaved at the end of each week. Autoclave bags must be labeled the following:

Inactivated waste must be placed inside a red bag lined biomedical waste fiberboard box. The red bag lining the biomedical waste box must be printed with a certification stamp indicating that the bag meets the ASTM D 1922 and ASTM D 1709 standards for tear and impact resistance.  Liner bags that meet this requirement are as follows:

  • 2 mil thick Fisherbrand Dual Tested Autoclave Biohazard bags (catalog #14-828-248, 37 x 48 in). Bags can be autoclaved.
  • 2 mil thick autoclave bags that fit the 30-gallon biomedical waste box may be purchased from VWR (catalog #14220-098, 38 x 48 in). Bags can be autoclaved.
  • 1 mil thick liner bags are provided free of cost with each box by Daniels Sharpsmart, Inc. These bags cannot be autoclaved! Bags will be left with the boxes by the Daniels Sharpsmart, Inc. driver in buildings.

UCF labs are responsible for purchasing red autoclave bags – only liner bags will be available from Daniels Sharpsmart.

Note: for successful autoclaving, the bag must be closed yet vented so that steam can enter the bag.

Each bag, including the liner bag, must be securely closed before sealing the biomedical waste box. Per Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, “The bag must be capable of being held in an inverted position with the closed end at the bottom for a period of 5 minutes without leakage.”

Sturdy, pre-printed cardboard biomedical waste boxes displaying the biohazard symbol are used as the terminal receptacle on campus. Biomedical waste boxes are left by the Daniels Sharpsmart driver in buildings that have their own pick-up and box delivery. Boxes may also be requested by contacting Dan Fry,, or Melina Kinsey, in the EHS office.

Tape all seams in an “H” pattern using clear tape. Do not overfill the boxes – the maximum weight is 55 lbs.

Label each bag of biohazardous waste with the following:

Place the closed and labeled biomedical waste boxes in the hall for pick-up by Daniels Sharpsmart, Inc. Only properly packaged and labeled boxes will be accepted for transport.

Liquid Biological Waste

Liquid biological waste shall be inactivated by autoclaving or bleach treatment and then flushed down the drain with copious amounts of water. For bleach treatment, add at least 1 part concentrated (8.25%) bleach to 13 parts liquid (water) and mix well. Let the solution sit for a minimum of 30 minutes and then pour it down the drain. Do not autoclave liquid waste that contains bleach as toxic chlorine gas may be generated and bleach is also corrosive to the autoclave parts.

Other EPA-registered tuberculocidal disinfectants may be used to inactivate liquid waste provided the manufacturer’s instructions for concentration and contact time are followed. Many of these disinfectants contain hazardous chemicals and cannot be poured down the drain. Once the biological component is inactivated, this type of waste must be picked up as Hazardous Waste.

Do not put liquid waste into red bags!


All medical sharps (e.g. metal lancets, scalpel blades, needles or syringe/needle combinations) must be disposed of in red, plastic sharps containers even if they are unused or not biologically contaminated. Sharps containers that contain only sharp items shall be closed when they are ¾ full and discarded in the red bag lined biomedical waste box within 30 days after closure. Label each sharps container with the following:

If the sharps are biologically-contaminated, the container must be autoclaved. Closed and labeled sharps containers are disposed of in the red bag lined biomedical waste box.   Two sides of the biomedical waste box must be marked with “Sharps contained within.”.”

Other sharp items that can cut or puncture the skin or the red bag (e.g., fragile glass, glass slides and cover slips, razor blades, pipets and pipet tips) shall be disposed of in a manner that prevents harm. These items may be placed in a sharps container but other alternatives, such as placing the items in small rigid boxes or hard sided plastic containers, are acceptable.

Non-sharp items (i.e., wrappers, paper towels, Kimwipes, plastic tubes) shall not be placed in sharps containers as they quickly overfill the container and may cause sharps to protrude out of the top of the container. If a sharps container contains any of these types of non-sharp items, it must be dated when the first non-sharps item is placed inside and disposed of within 30 days under State of Florida Department of Health regulations.

Mixed Radioactive/Biological Waste

Radioactive waste must be segregated, stored, labeled, and handled per the requirements of the Radiation Safety Manual. The biological component of mixed radioactive/biological waste must be inactivated by treating with 1N NaOH for 1 hour at 20°C prior to turning it over to EHS as Radioactive waste.

Mixed Chemical/Biological Waste

The biological component of mixed chemical/biological waste must be inactivated prior to turning it over to EHS as hazardous chemical waste. Precautions must be taken to prevent the generation and release of toxic chemicals during the inactivation process.  In general, autoclaving is not recommended for this type of waste. Note that in most cases the chemical component of the waste will have inactivated the biological component (as in the case of fixative solutions).

Non-infectious Animal Waste

Items contaminated with blood, blood products or tissues from healthy animals shall be disposed of in the red bag lined biomedical waste box since it is impossible to distinguish animal blood from human blood. However, these items do not require inactivation prior to leaving the laboratory.

Biological Waste Transport

Biological waste being transported outside of the laboratory (e.g., to an autoclave) must be in a closed, leak-proof bag or container; bags must be contained in a leak-proof tray and transported on a cart to and from the autoclave. Do not leave non-inactivated waste unattended.

Biological Waste Disposal Contacts

Melina Kinsey
Biosafety Officer
(407) 823-1526

Dan Fry
Biosafety Specialist
(407) 823-0073