Write and implement an SOP for Waste Segregation and Disposal


The laboratory produces many different types of waste which may be dangerous for the environment and/or for the community. Therefore it is important that the laboratory adheres to strict procedures regarding waste disposal and processing.


The laboratory waste can be divided into several categories:

  • Non-infectious (household) waste
  • Infectious waste (including sharps)
  • Infectious glassware for re-use
  • Chemical waste, which can again be divided into many categories:
    • Halogenated solvents
    • Non-halogenated solvents
    • Inorganic acids
    • Alkalis
    • Lube oils
    • Photographic fixers
    • Photographic developers
    • Metal solutions
    • Organic acids
    • Hydrofluoric acid
    • Cyanides
    • Chrome (VI) or Boron solution
    • Gel waste

Each category has a different processing procedure and chemical waste must be separated according to these categories. Moreover, different categories may not always be compatible with each other and mixing may lead to accidents.

  • Infectious waste must be incinerated. Before incineration (which must be done regularly to prevent accumulation of the infectious waste) the waste must be stored at a secure location preventing access by anyone but the person assigned for the processing of the waste.
  • Infectious glassware for reuse must be sterilized and cleaned.
  • Non-infectious waste must be processed according to normal procedures.
  • Sharps must be incinerated.
  • Chemical waste must be processed safely to protect the environment (the method for processing depends on the type of chemical).

Write a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) on Waste Segregation and Disposal. The SOP should be in compliance with possible national regulations and it should explain the following procedures:

  • Correct segregation and disposal of waste in the laboratory
  • Correct processing of waste after it has left the laboratory room (proper incineration/autoclaving/discharge of chemical waste).

It is also adviced to design a waste segregation chart that shows in a clear, step-wise manner, how waste should be segregated. This can be printed and put on the walls of the laboratory rooms so that staff can quickly see how they should segregate specific types of waste.

In the right-hand column a link to an example Biosafety Manual procedure "Waste Segregation and Disposal" is provided.

How & who

Biosafety Officer:

  1. Make an inventory of the types of waste produced by your laboratory. For chemical waste: also identify the category of chemical waste.
  2. Check if national or local regulations exist for the processing of the types of waste produced by your laboratory.
  3. If these regulations exist: write the SOP such that it complies to these regulations.
    If these regulations do not exist: implement at least the requirements of the ISO 15190 standard, article 23 on waste management. Write the SOP according to the protocol for writing a Procedure SOP in the Master SOP and use the template for a Procedure SOP attached to the Master SOP. You can use the template SOP Waste Segregation and Disposal provided in the right-hand column as example. Please note that this template does not include a procedure for chemical waste. If your laboratory produces chemical waste, you must also include a procedure on processing this type of waste.
  4. Print the SOP and put it in a new folder entitled "Biosafety Manual".
  5. Make the facilities for implementing the Waste Segregation and Disposal SOP. I.e. place clearly labeled containers for each waste category in each laboratory room.
  6. Include the SOP in the Read and Understand List and indicate that all staff members have to read the SOP.
  7. Present the SOP in a weekly staff meeting and indicate that all staff members have to read the SOP and sign the Read and Understand List when they have read it.
  8. Ensure that waste is processed according to the procedure (take regular samples by checking how the infectious waste, infectious glassware and sharps are processed). Also check for litter around the incinerator.

Laboratory manager:

  1. Assist the Biosafety Officer where needed (in purchasing waste containers if needed, making staff members read the Waste Segregation and Disposal SOP, etc.).

Back to Roadmap Activity Overview
This activity belongs to the QSE Facilities & Safety
ISO15189:2007: 5.2.4 5.2.10 5.7.3
ISO15189:2012: 5.2.2 5.7.2
ISO15190:2003: 7.417.323