Laboratory Medical Waste Disposal

Medical Waste Disposal Services

There are three major types of waste that clinical laboratories generate:
infectious (biohazard) waste, pathological waste and chemical waste.

Infectious (red bag) waste

Biohazardous or infectious waste is commonly called “red bag waste” in the medical field. Red bag waste is anything contaminated or potentially contaminated by blood, other bodily fluids, or potentially infectious material.

The most common items often referred to as Red Bag Waste include:

  • Gloves, masks, and gowns.
  • Used needles, syringes, scalpels, knives, or other Sharps.
  • Used bandages or gauzes.

Some common red bag wastes in a laboratory setting include:

  • Blood, blood products, and Other Potentially Infectious Material (OPIM): Human blood, serum, plasma, urine, vaginal secretions or any other bodily fluids as defined by OSHA.
  • Laboratory or Microbiological waste: Cultures, stocks of infectious agents, microorganisms, and biologicals. Any cultures or other items contaminated by this type of waste, like petri dishes, are also considered microbiological waste.
  • Live or attenuated vaccines that are infectious to humans

For more details on infectious waste, please check out our webpage regarding biohazardous waste.

Pathological and large tissue waste

Pathological wastes are biohazardous wastes that require incineration rather than sterilization by autoclave. Pathological wastes generated by a laboratory include human tissues and body parts.  Veterinary labs may produce pathological animal wastes, meaning carcasses, body parts, and blood derived from animals that are infectious to humans.

Some laboratories do not generate pathological waste but if your lab is dealing with human or animal tissues you must ensure you are properly segmenting this waste for incineration.

For more details on pathological waste, please visit our dedicated page on this subject.

Laboratory chemicals

There are numerous chemicals used in laboratories that must be managed for disposal, and typically this follows the guidelines established by the RCRA hazardous waste stream. Laboratory waste from cleaning, disinfecting, reagents, test kits, and a variety of equipment must be assessed to determine whether they are considered hazardous.

Because of the assortment and varieties of chemicals used in a clinical laboratory setting, you will most likely need to have an expert evaluate your laboratory wastes to ensure you are in compliance.

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