Knowing your waste in the laboratory

Knowing how to categorise waste and the standard infection control precautions is essential in any laboratory. The following is not in any way advisory1 but provide some ideas on how waste should be managed.

Waste is divided into three categories; Healthcare, Special and Domestic waste. Healthcare waste, including clinical waste, is produced as a direct result of healthcare activities such as soiled dressings.

Special or hazardous waste originates from the delivery of healthcare in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Special waste includes a range of controlled wastes, defined by legislation, which contain dangerous or hazardous substances.

These must be handled separately in the three streams below:


Domestic waste or yellow and black stripes including small quantities of hygiene waste.

Final disposal: Landfill

Risk category: Trivial


Consists of items which are contaminated or likely to be contaminated with blood and/or body fluids.

Final disposal: Following heat disinfection to landfill

Risk category: Low

Light Blue

Laboratory/microbiological waste that must be autoclaved before.

Final disposal: Via the orange stream

Risk category: Low


Waste which poses ethical, highly infectious or contamination risks. This includes human tissue medical devices and sharps.

Final disposal: Specialist incineration

Risk category: High


Chemical waste can take the form of solvents, aqueous solutions, dry powders, and any chemicals not required for use.

Final disposal: Breakdown of chemical properties or recycled

Risk category: Special waste

The Options

There are many types of waste disposal options some of which are particularly suited for their purpose. Cardboard containers are deemed to be the obvious greener choice except when they come in contact with contaminated waste or food they are no longer recyclable.

It is possible for the card to breakdown also as it is a biodegradable produce. Sharps bins with seal tight tops often seen in a surgery environment provide excellent safety of sharps but the material contains heavy plastics and they are not compactable.

Neither of these come at an economical price either. Other methods include biohazard bags in a wire holder or box, or just a plastic pail with lid.

Why DispoJars?

DispoJars are safe, secure and with their transparent appearance provide excellent solution to all laboratory workbench orange and light blue waste. Some sizes2 come with a locking lid making them virtually secure. All are available with cap liners to contain liquids, or alternatively, gel packs can be used. DispoJars can be autoclaved while containing the waste. All DispoJars are manufactured in PET which has a low toxicity when combusted. A full range can be found here.

  1. Please contact your local waste authority for requirements and advice on your specific waste management needs.
  2. PJ3000 and PJ5000 sizes come with locking lids