Lab and workshop waste

Directions for specific types of lab and hazardous waste

Biological waste

The management and disposal of biological waste is highly regulated and legislative requirements have become increasingly complex.

The University produces and disposes of considerable quantities of biological waste each year and has set up a system that ensures waste is segregated and disposed of according to legislation.

A corporate procedure for the identification, segregation and disposal of biological waste has been developed. It has been written using the most up to date guidance from the Department of Health and to reflect legislative requirements. All departments must work to this procedure - doing so will ensure that they are complying with legislation.

Via the links below you can access the University's procedure, associated documents and relevant publications. You can also access training material and the web based training package, which all lab workers must complete.

Associated documents:

Chemicals, solvents and other hazardous substances

Waste is hazardous if it contains substances that are harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous wastes must not be disposed of in the general waste stream or via the drain; instead it must be segregated and disposed of/treated by an appropriate facility.

Identifying hazardous waste

Waste producers must establish if their waste is hazardous and identify the correct disposal route. If a waste contains a substance with one or more of the following properties it will need to be assessed.

  • Explosive
  • Oxidising
  • Highly flammable
  • Flammable
  • Irritant
  • Harmful
  • Toxic
  • Carcinogenic
  • Corrosive
  • Infectious
  • Teratogenic
  • Mutagenic
  • Sensitizing
  • Ecotoxic

The collection and disposal of solvents, chemicals and other hazardous waste is managed corporately by the Environment Officer. Collections are made by a specialist contractor approximately every six weeks – the collection dates are booked in advance.

You should book collections of waste as required using the booking sheet at least eight days before a scheduled collection. Forms must be e-mailed to the Environment Officer; no additions can be made to the list once it has been sent.

Waste must be stored in line with legislation prior to collection for disposal. If you need assistance you can contact your Departmental Safety Officer, Health & Safety on 26100 or the Environment Officer on 29083.


Effluent discharges

A discharge consent is generally required for liquid discharges of non domestic type effluent or waste water (i.e trade effluent). A consent, issued by the Sewage Undertaker, sets out restrictions on the volume, flow, strength and character of the discharge. The aim of which is to ensure the safety of sewage workers, to preserve sewers and other infrastructure and to allow the sewage plant to process the effluent successfully before being discharged into a water course.

At this present time the University has only been required to obtain a discharge consent for the operation of Cofield Swimming Pool.

However, all other discharges from University premises must comply with Section 111 of The Water Industry Act 1991. In practice this means that only low level and non hazardous liquid wastes can be disposed of through the sewage system.

Further information and guidance can be found in the Document Guidance for departments on the completion of waste assessments and identifying hazardous waste.

Note: Under no circumstances should any liquid wastes be poured into external drains as they could be surface water drains that drain directly into local water courses.

Fisher Packaging Recycling Scheme
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
Glass Disposal

Lab glassware

Lab glassware is often made of borosilicate glass (for example Pyrex) which cannot be recycled in the mixed recycling. It has a different chemical composition, meaning that it is heat resistant and so cannot be processed in the same way as regular glass. How it is disposed of will depend on what it has contained:

  1. Pyrex that is clean and unwanted should go in the general waste. Many labs have a dedicated lab glass bin that is periodically emptied directly into the external general waste bins.
  2. Pyrex that is contaminated with chemicals should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
  3. Pyrex that is contaminated with infectious/GM material must be disposed of in the orange biowaste stream.

Glass jars or bottles

Empty non-borosilicate glass bottles and jars must also be disposed of correctly depending on what it has stored:

  1. Vessels that contain residues of water miscible chemicals can be rinsed with water; the water can go to the drain and the container can be recycled after the label has been defaced.
  2. Empty vessels that contain residues of chemicals that are not water miscible must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Broken glass

Broken glass needs to be stored safely prior to collection. If it is broken or likely to break then it needs to be packed in a small cardboard box prior to being disposed of in the appropriate bin.

If you have any further queries, contact the Environment Officer on 0114 222 9083.