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Oregon State University

Hazardous Waste Types

Safety Instruction Number: 
Last Update: 
Wed, 07/22/2015


  • Waste materials generated from OSU operations may be hazardous to both employees and others who handle waste for disposal.
  • Typical examples include material that is radioactive, flammable, reactive, toxic, corrosive, infectious or sharp.
  • OSU policy requires hazardous wastes to be segregated and placed in appropriate waste containers.
  • Lab and shop personnel are responsible for directing their waste to the correct disposal method.
  • Follow these guidelines in handling potentially dangerous materials for disposal.

Radioactive Waste

  • Radioactive waste material must be properly labeled, placed in special radioactive waste containers, and disposed of through EH&S.
  • To prevent contamination, only laboratory workers and EH&S personnel should handle these containers.
  • Request radioactive waste containers or request pickup using the Radioactive Waste Pickup Request form.
  • For more information contact Radiation Safety staff at 7-2227.

Chemical Waste

  • Chemical waste should be disposed of through the hazardous waste program operated by EH&S by submitting a Hazarous Waste Pickup Request.
  • Empty chemical containers should be as empty as possible, have allowed any volatile residue to evaporated in a fume hood, and have the cap left. off. Any hazard warning labels (flammable liquid, corrosive, etc..) should be removed, obliterated, or defaced prior to disposal. Empty containers meeting these conditions can be boxed/bagged up and thrown in the dumpster.
  • Empty metal solvent cans should meet the above conditions but can be recycled through Campus Recycling by submitting a Recycle Pickup Request.
  • Empty containers which contained certain high hazard chemicals, refered to as 'P-List' chemicals, should be treated as hazadous waste and submitted to EH&S for pickup instead of being disposed of in the trash. P-List materials can be found here.
  • Many laboratory chemicals are non-hazardous and can be safely disposed of in the normal trash. To avoid confusion, clearly label these containers "NON-HAZARDOUS" and put in a sealed secondary box prior to disposal. A brief list of non-hazardous chemicals may be viewed on EH&S's Hazardous Waste Reduction safety instruction.

Infectious or Biohazardous Waste

  • Infectious or biohazardous waste must be incinerated, properly autoclaved, or chemically disinfected prior to disposal.
  • After disinfection, this material should be put in a sealed outside container and placed in the building dumpster unless it contains sharps, hazardous chemicals, or radioactive constituents.
  • A label that clearly identifies the material as "STERILE" or "NON-INFECTIOUS" should be placed on the outside of the container or bag.
  • Infectious waste autoclaves should be strictly monitored for correct operation.


There is a distinction between "sharp objects" and "sharps".


  • Regulatory definition includes needles, scalpel blades, lancets, and syringes that have been removed from their original sterile containers.
  • Under Oregon law ALL SYRINGES, even ones without a needle or that have been only used for non-infectious materials are considered sharps and must be disposed of as such.
  • All sharps must be initially placed in puncture resistant "sharps" containers, and collected by EH&S for incineration in a DEQ-permitted infectious waste incinerator.
  • If needles or other sharps are found in the trash, laboratory personnel will be contacted to correct the hazard.
  • Specific sharps guidelines can be found in the Infectious Waste Disposal safety instruction on EH&S's webpage.
  • Approved sharps containers can be purchesed at Chem Stores in Gilbert Hall.
  • Sharps pickup can be requested using EH&S's Hazardous Waste Pickup Request.

Sharp Objects

  • Other sharp objects, such as broken glass, can cause physical damage to an individual and have the potential for infection or poisoning if contaminated.
  • Employees should watch for sharp objects and should never reach into a trash container to remove trash or compact it.
  • Sharp objects should be placed in puncture resistant containers (cardboard box) before placing into the trash.
  • Plastic bags full of trash should be carried away from the body.

Universal Waste

  • Universal waste is a special category of waste that includes BATTERIES and LIGHT TUBES/BULBS among other thing.
  • Batteries should be placed in battery recycle containers located around campus or submitted to EH&S for disposal. Details on battery recycle/disposal can be found on EH&S's Battery Safety Instruction.
  • Light bulbt and tubes must be boxed up, labeled as Universal Waste, dated, and submitted to EH&S for disposal. Details on Light Tube/Bulb recycling can be found on EH&S's Light Tube/Bulb Safety Instruction.