Sharps and Lab Glass Waste

Sharps waste is regulated by state law and requires special handling. Sharps are instruments used to puncture or cut body parts. In a waste container, sharps can cause cuts, punctures and potential exposure to waste handlers.

Laboratory glass and plastic waste are not technically sharps but can puncture regular waste bags and injure waste handlers. The rules for packaging and disposal of laboratory glass and plastic waste differ depending on whether or not the items are contaminated.

Visit the Sharps Safety webpage and review the Work Safely with Sharps Focus Sheet to learn more about safe handling of sharps and options for sharps substitution.

Sharps Waste

Biohazardous lab glass and plastic

Nonhazardous lab glass and plastic

What you can do to stay safe

  • Learn to identify sharps waste vs. laboratory glass and plastic waste.
  • Keep sharps waste separate from all other waste streams.
  • Sharps waste and biohazardous lab glass and plastic waste must be decontaminated prior to disposal.
  • Take the required and recommended safety training courses.
  • Learn more about working safely with sharps.

Treatment and disposal of sharps waste and laboratory glass and plastic waste varies based on access to autoclaves and location. Refer to the flow charts on the Biohazardous Waste page for your location for specific treatment and disposal information.

Services available

EH&S biosafety officers can assist with training, consultation and help with any biosafety questions.

Frequently asked questions


Biological Safety Contact

(206) 221-7770
Reference Files