Waste Guidelines

Biological Waste Disposal

  • Every 4th Wednesday of the month 2:00-2:30pm WG-01 The Research Building

BioWaste Flow Chart

Radioactive Waste Disposal

  • Medical Center- Each Monday and Thursday 11:00-11:30am WG-01 The Research Building 
  • Regents Hall- 1st Wednesday of each month 2:30-3:00pm 151D Regents Hall (Loading Dock) 

Radioactive Waste

Georgetown University Waste Disposal Guidelines

Emergency Phone Numbers (DO NOT CALL 911)
  • Laboratory, Clinical or Biological Safety Concerns- (202)687-6640
  • Radioactive Materials (RAM) Concerns- (202)687-6640
    • Spills
    • Personal Contamination
    • Loss of Material
  • GU Police Department- (202)687-435
    • Personal Injury
    • Fire
    • Chemical Spill Response
    • Air Quality Issues
  • Facilities Management- (202)687-3432
  • Risk Management (report work related injuries)- (202)687-6622
After Hours-All Emergencies- (202)687-4357
General Waste- Assistance 

Definition: To  be considered "general waste", material must be free of any actual or apparent contamination (pathological/infectious, radioactive and/ or hazardous chemical). In some cases, after disinfection or decontamination, previously contaminated material may be treated as general waste.

Examples of general waste include: Office waste (paper, boxes, folders, plastic, glass), decontaminated labware (see Medical Waste section), animal bedding (not contaminated), etc.

General Instructions: Never dispose as general waste:

  • Items labeled with either a biohazard or radioactive materials label
  • Sharps (needles, syringes, scalpel blades, etc.)
  • Material considered to be medical/infectious waste
  • A Red bag labeled with a biohazard symbol, regardless of content
  • An Orange bag labeled with the biohazard symbol, regardless of content
  • Any Yellow bag (indicates radioactive waste)


If Discarding:


Collected by:


Do not place in hallway. Call Medical  Center Operations (7-1462).

GU Recycling Office

Office Waste

Place in clear plastic bag.


General Office Recycling (paper,glass & plastic)

Place in recycling boxes located throughout the Medical Center.

GU Recycling Office

Glassware (not contaminated)

Place in a cardboard box, tape closed, and label "Glassware Trash." Place in hallway for pickup.

Medical Center Operations

Refrigerator/Freezer (not Contaminated)

Do not place in hallway. Call Medical Center Operations (7-1462)


Not Applicable


  • Liquid media (not contaminated)

Pour liquid into sink

Not Applicable

  • Biologically contaminated liquid media

Inactivate (decontaminate) biological agents using a 10% bleach solution. Let stand for 20 minutes, then dispose via lab sink.

Not Applicable

  • Solid media

Place in an Orange "Biohazard" bag. Autoclave tape must be used. 

Not Applicable 


Infectious/ Pathological Waste

Definition: Waste which has the perceived or actual presence of pathogenic agents. "RED BAG" waste requires decontamination and/ or treatment to prevent occupational or environmental exposure.

Examples of Infectious Waste includes:

  • microbiological cultures
  • blood and blood products
  • pathological waste (human/animal organs, tissues, bodily fluids, etc.)
  • Sharps (needles, syringes, razor blades, Pasteur pipettes,etc.)
  • Animals, body parts, and bedding
  • Chemotherapeutic agents and waste
  • Cytological drugs
  • Any solid waste contaminated with Infectious material

General Instructions

Pathological/anatomical/chemotherapeutic waste must be disposed of in red biohazard waste bags. Red bag waste is received by EH&S in room WG-01 TRB, the fourth Wednesday of every month from 2:00-2:30 p.m. More frequent transfers (if necessary) may be arranged by appointment.

  • Animal carcasses and/or parts must be bagged and transferred to the Research Resource Facility (RRF)
  • Liquids must not be placed in red bags, but must be decontaminated and properly disposed of (see above)
  • Red bag waste must be stored in a leak proof container with the biohazard label affixed
  • Empty brown bottle chemical containers

Autoclaving/ Steam Sterilization (Orange Bags only)

General Instructions

Potentially infectious/ biohazards materials (except for animal carcasses, body parts, and/or tissues) may be autoclaved, then disposed of as regulated waste

  1. Only use Orange color autoclave bags
  2. Fill the autoclave no more than 3/4 full
  3. Do not close bag tightly. Allow enough room at the opening for steam to enter and escape the bag
  4. Always use autoclave indicator tape
  5. Always place bags in an autoclave tray
  6. Never place sharps in the autoclave (Sharps must be taken to WG-01 The Research Building, the fourth Wednesday of every month from 2:00-2:30pm for disposal)
  7. Do not autoclave animal carcasses or body parts (these bags must be bagged and returned to the RRF)
  8. Do not autoclave pathological/anatomical waste (These materials must be placed in a red bag- See Red Bag Waste section above)
  9. To sterilize regulated waste materials, run the autoclave cycle for at least 45 minutes at 121C, with a drying cycle time of 15 minutes
  10. Promptly remiove the bag following the completion
  11. Inspect for complete sterilization, leakage, or protruding objects (i.e. pipettes)
  12. Tightly seal the bag closed
  13. Place the Orange autoclave bag inside the gray trash container lined with a clear plastic bag

Note: Do not leave unautoclaved waste in sterilization area

Chemical Waste

Definition: Non-radioactive chemicals and or solid waste contaminated with hazardous chemicals. If you have any questions, please contact Safety and Environmental Management (SEM) at 7-7409 or 7-6913/

Examples of Chemical Waste include:

  • waste and expired  chemicals
  • Broken thermometers and any items containingg mercury
  • Non-returnable gas cylinders and lecture bottles (18 inch max)
  • Materials used for clean-up of chemical spuills
  • Used oil of any type
  • Photographic film processing solutions
  • lead shielding and lead scrap (No radioactive contamination)

General Instructions

  • Do Not dicard any chemical waste in the trash or down the drains without consulting with SEM
  • Designate a Hazardous Waste Strorage Area
  • Perform a weekly inspection of the labv chemical waste storage are
  • Acquire labels and forms from SEM or download from the SEM website
  • When completeing the GU chemical waste label, identify all hazardous components by chemical name (not by acronym or brand name).
  • Seperate aqueous waste from organics
  • Seperate halogenated organices from non-halogenated organics
  • Do not allow excessive chemical waste to accumulate in the work area
  • Fax completed forms to 7-9229
If Discarding Chemical In: Then:
Original Container
  • Print "Hazardous Waste" and then discard date on the container
  • If original label is absent, loose or illegible, complete and attach a GU "Hazardous Waste" chemical waste label
Container other than original
  • Deface the container's original label or identification
  • Complete and affix GU "Hazardous Waste" chemical waste label


Bulk Chemicals
  • Complete GU "Hazardous Waste" chemical waste label and affix to container
  • Only place compatible chemicals in a single containers
  • Never place heavy metal compounds, oxidizers, phenols, strong acids or bases in noncompatible container
  • Fill only to the "fill line"
  • Store away from ignition and/or heat sources
  • Five gallon flammable chemical containers must be stored in a flammable storage cabinet
Chemically Contaminated Solid Waste 
  • Place materials in a clear plastic bag or appropriate container
  • Close the container/bag and place in a chemical fume hood or secondary container (such as cardboard box)
  • Complete and attach GU "Hazardous Waste" chemical waste label
  • Call SEM for pick-up or when you have questions



Radioactive Waste

Definition: Any waste that contains or is contaminated with radioactrive material (RAM)

Radioactive Waste Examples:

  • Material contaminated with RAM
  • Liquid scintillation fluids with vials
  • RAM stock vials
  • RAM aqueous liquid waste 
  • RAM animal carcasses, excreta, and bedding
  • RAM sharps

General Instructions

  • Always segregate waste by isotope
  • Always segegate waste by type:
    • liquid waste-seperate aqueous from organic
    • solid (dry) waste
    • stock vials
    • liquid scintillation vials
    • animals 
    • sharps
  • Use only containers provided by Radiation Safety;
    • Yellow plastic bags for solids, stock vials, and animals
    • plastic bottles for liquids
    • sharps containers
    • scintilation vial trays
  • Each waste container must have a RAM label identifying the isotope
  • Always use a cart when transporting radioactive waste
  • Always transport liquid waste in a secondary container

Disposal Information: All radioactive waste must be delivered to Radiation Safety for disposal,

  • For Medical Center- WG-01 The Research Building- Monday and Thursday 11:00-11:30am
  • For Regents Hall- 1st Wednesday of each month 2:30-3:00pm 151D Regents Hall (Loading Dock area)


Mixed Hazardous Waste

Definition: Waste with hazardous constituents, which may include radioactive materials, infectious agents and/or hazardous chemicals

Mixed Waste Examples:

  • Radioactive waste with trace levels of chloroform or toxic heavy metals
  • Liquid radioactive waste containing less than 22% methanol
  • Liquid radioactive waste containing Chromic or Formic acid
  • Liquid radioactive waste with phenol, chloroform, or formaldehyde
  • Chemical or radioactive waste containing blood or blood products
  • Tissues containing chemotherapeautic drugs (tamoxifen, methotexate, etc.)

General Instructions:

  • Properly identified all hazaredous constituents- Use hazad specific labels/tags
  • Minimize the volume produced 
  • Seperate liquid and solid waste 
  • Seperate aqueous and organic solvents
  • Adjust the pH of waste solutions to between 5.5 and 8.5 
  • Segregate all radioactive mixed waste by isotope
  • Avoid generating mixed hazardous waste to the extent possible
If Discarding: Then: For Assistance Contact:
Infectious agent and radioactive material  Inactivate Infectious Agent. Dispose as Radioactive Waste Radiation Safety (7-4712)
Infectious agent and hazardous chemical(s) Inactivate Infectious Agent, Dispose as Chemical waste EH&S (7-4712)
Hazardous chemical(s) and radioactive material Dispose as Radioactive Waste Radiation Safety (7-4712)
Infectious agent, radioactive material, and hazardous chemical(s) Inactivate Infectious Agent, Dispose as Radioactive Waste Radiation Safety (7-4712)