Infectious Waste Management Guidelines

Infectious Waste Collection and Disposal Guidelines


The following guidelines are to be used for the safe handling and disposal of infectious waste generated at the University of Delaware. No radioactive or hazardous waste will be handled through these guidelines. Consult the Radiation Safety Manual and your Department Chemical Hygiene Plan for the proper disposal of those respective wastes.


The responsibility for infectious waste identification, segregation, and packaging rests with the principal investigator or permit supervisor. The principal investigator or permit supervisor shall follow all of the procedures in the guidelines and provide proper instruction to personnel under their supervision.

All infectious waste generated at the University must be properly segregated from all other wastes. The Department of Environmental Health & Safety will supply the appropriate boxes, bags, and sharps containers for segregation and disposal. A waste is infectious if it meets the following definition of infectious waste as defined by the State of Delaware's Regulations for Governing Solid Waste, Section 11, Part 1:

Infectious Waste-means those solid wastes which may cause human disease and may reasonably be suspected of harboring human pathogenic organisms, or may pose a substantial threat or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of or otherwise managed. Types of solid waste designated as infectious include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

A. Biological Wastes:

  1. Biological liquid wastes means blood and blood products, excretions, exudates, secretions, suctionings, and other body fluids including liquid wastes from renal dialysis.
  2. Pathological wastes means all human tissues and anatomical remains, including human fetal remains, which emanate from surgery, obstetrical procedures, autopsy and laboratory procedures.
  3. Culture and stocks of etiologic agents and associated biological wastes means, but is not limited to, specimen cultures and stocks of etiologic agents, and wastes from production of biologicals and serums.
  4. Laboratory wastes means those wastes which have come in contact with pathogenic organisms or blood or body fluids. Such wastes include, but are not limited to, disposable materials; culture dishes; devices used to transfer, inoculate, and mix cultures; paper and cloth which has come in contact with specimens or cultures which have not been sterilized or rendered noninfectious; or laboratory wastes, including cultures of etiologic agents, which pose a substantial threat to health due to their volume and virulence.
  5. Animal tissue, bedding and other wastes from animals known or suspected to be infected with a pathogen which also causes human disease, provided that prevailing evidence indicates that such tissue, bedding or other waste may act as a vehicle of transmission to humans.
  6. Human dialysis waste materials including blood lines and dialysate membranes.

B. Sharps means any discarded article that may cause punctures or cuts. Such wastes include, but are not limited to, needles, intravenous (IV) tubing with needles attached, scalpel blades, glass slides, glassware, and syringes that have been removed from their original sterile containers.

C. Discarded biologicals means serums and vaccines produced by pharmaceutical companies for human or veterinary use. These products may be discarded because of a bad manufacturing lot (i.e., off-specification material that does not pass quality control or that is recalled), out-dating or removal of the product from the market or other reasons. Because of the possible presence of etiologic agents in these products, the discarded material constitutes infectious waste.

D. Other infectious wastes means any residue or contaminated soil, water, or other debris resulting from the cleanup of a spill of any infectious waste.

E. Infectious waste that has been sterilized or disinfected by autoclaving or chemical treatment must still be disposed of following the procedures outlined in these guidelines.

Note: Liquid infectious waste may be discarded into the sanitary sewer system, if appropriate. Do not place large quantities (greater than 20 cubic centimeters) of liquid infectious waste into the boxes supplied by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety.


All waste, except sharps (see definition) and infectious animal carcasses and/or tissues, that is determined to be infectious should first be autoclaved and then placed into a box which is lined with two 6 mil red infectious waste bags. The bags and boxes for the Newark campus are supplied by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety.

When the infectious waste box is full, seal each of the 6 mil red infectious waste bags individually. Each bag is to be sealed by twisting the top of the bag into a gooseneck and wrapping with a sufficient amount of strong tape (ex. duct tape, packaging tape). NOTE: Do not overfill the box. The flaps to the top of the box must be able to close without obstruction. The department will seal the box prior to the pick-up.

If outside contamination of the regulated waste container occurs, it shall be placed in a second container meeting the same requirements as the original container. Notify the Department of Environmental Health & Safety if outside contamination occurs.

Sharps are to be placed into rigid, puncture-resistant containers supplied by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety. Clipping, breaking and recapping of needles and resheathing of scalpels are not recommended in order to prevent aerosols and accidental punctures or cuts. Under no circumstances shall a discarded sharp (used or unused) be removed from a sharps container. Do not overfill the container. When the sharps container is full, tightly seal the container and place into a properly lined infectious waste disposal box.

When the box is full and the red bags have been sealed, submit a waste pickup request or contact the Department of Environmental Health & Safety (831-8475) for a pick-up if your facility is on the Newark campus. Infectious waste will be picked up on a weekly basis. The following information will be asked at the time of your request for service:

  1. Name
  2. Building
  3. Laboratory Room Number
  4. Number of Boxes to be Picked Up
  5. Packaging Supplies Needed (number of boxes and/or sharps container)

Departments may be authorized by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety to establish a local storage area for waste prior to collection by the disposal company.

Infectious animal carcasses and/or tissues will be handled separately. All animal carcasses and/or tissues should be double-bagged using 6 mil red infectious waste bags supplied by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety. Small animal carcasses can be individually wrapped and collected together in a larger bag. Store carcasses in your freezer or your department's designated cold storage area. Call the Department of Environmental Health & Safety, 831-8475, for pick-up.

Containers for sharps disposal and for infectious waste at any satellite campus or research facility shall be available from a vendor approved by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety. Collection of filled containers for disposal shall also be done by a vendor approved by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety.

Questions regarding the infectious waste guidelines or infectious waste program should be addressed to EHS or call 831-8475.