Biological Waste


Biohazardous agent refers to an agent that is biological in nature, capable of self-replication, and has the capacity to produce deleterious effects upon biological organisms. Biohazardous agents include, but are not limited to; bacteria, fungi, viruses, rickettsiae, chlamydia, prion, parasites, recombinant products, allergens, cultured human and animal cells and the potentially biohazardous agents these cells may contain, infected clinical specimens, tissue from experimental animals, plant viruses, bacteria and fungi, toxins, and other biohazardous agents as defined by State and Federal regulations.

Biological waste is any material that contains or has been contaminated by a biohazardous agent. Biological waste includes, but is not limited to; Petri dishes, surgical wraps, culture tubes, syringes, needles, blood vials, absorbent material, personal protective equipment and pipette tips.

Sharps are items that are capable of puncturing, cutting or abrading the skin. Sharps include, but are not limited to; glass and plastic pipettes, broken glass, test tubes, razor blades, syringes, and needles. See the Sharps and Infectious Waste: Handling and Disposal Guidelines for more details.

Waste Types

Biological Versus Chemical Waste

Biological waste must be managed separately from chemical waste. The most common example where chemical waste is mistaken for biological waste is agarose gel contaminated with ethidium bromide or heavy metals (i.e. arsenic, chromium). This type of material should always be managed as chemical waste. When both chemical and biological waste types exist, the biological agent(s) should be treated first. Once the biological agents have been deactivated by either autoclave or chemical disinfection, the chemical waste should be submitted through the online Environmental Health and Safety Assistant (EHSA) system (see next section for details).


All sharps should be placed into properly labeled sharps containers or other rigid, puncture-proof containers. Make sure the container is sealed, labeled, and in-tact. Carefully place non-contaminated sharps next to the dumpster.

Contaminated sharps should be managed as follows:

  • Biological contaminated sharps should be treated and managed following the Biological Waste Disposal and Pickup Procedures found at the bottom of this page.
  • Chemical contaminated sharps should be submitted to EHS through EHSA (see below).
  • Biological and chemical contaminated sharps should be treated first as a biological waste. Once the biological agents have been deactivated by autoclave, the remaining chemical waste should be submitted through EHSA (see below).

Liquid Waste

Liquid biological waste should be collected in containers for autoclaving or chemical disinfection. Autoclaved or chemically disinfected liquid wastes can be disposed via the laboratory sink. Do not pour melted agarose down the drain. Allow it to cool and solidify, then dispose of it as solid waste in biohazardous waste bags.

Solid Waste

Solid biological waste, including solidified agarose gels, should be collected in appropriate biohazardous waste autoclave bags. Once the waste has been autoclaved, the autoclave bags should be taped or tied shut and placed inside of the cardboard box provided by EHS.

Biological Waste Disposal and Pickup Procedures:

  1. Determine whether the biological waste is Category 1 or Category 2.

Category 1 biological waste includes any human-derived biological or substance known, assumed, or suspected of being infectious to humans, plants, or animals before treatment that may cause harm to the general public if released into the environment. Category 1 biological waste also includes any material contaminated with the aforementioned infectious substances and all items containing or contaminated with human blood or fluids. All Category 1 biological waste must be treated by autoclave or with an appropriate chemical disinfecting agent such as bleach prior to pickup.

Category 2 biological waste, also known as "look-alike waste", is non-infectious and includes material such as animal tissue, fluids, cell cultures and Petri dishes not fitting the Category 1 description. Category 2 waste does not require treatment.

  1. All solid biological waste, including sharps containers, must be placed into a cardboard box provided by EHS. The box should be taped shut once it is full. Do not overfill the box; the box flaps should easily fold down onto the top of the box (See pictures below).
  2. Once you are ready to have waste removed from your laboratory, complete an online waste pickup request through the Environmental Health and Safety Assistant (EHSA) system (see below for details). Pickup usually occurs on the next working day.
  3. Once you have submitted the waste, place a green "Approved" sticker on the box(s) and write the pickup request number on the stickers (More can be requested on EHSA).
  4. A EHS technician will come to your lab and remove the waste. The technician will leave behind the same number of boxes that were removed from the lab. It is the responsibility of the lab personnel to construct each new box.
Examples of Correct and Incorrect Biological Waste Storage:
Incorrect Biological Waste Storage


Once the waste is picked up from campus locations, it is transported back to Purdue's Laboratory Materials Storage Building where it is consolidated into a 40 cubic yard roll off. A waste vendor routinely picks up this roll off and transports it to a nearby Subtitle D non-hazardous waste landfill. The landfill requires that all waste be non-infectious, free of EPA regulated chemical waste, and contain no liquids.

New Process as of July 3, 2023

Environmental Health and Safety Assistant (EHSA)

As of July 3, 2023, the process for waste pickup requests transitioned to an online platform: Environmental Health and Safety Assistant (EHSA). Word documents, PDFs, Qualtrics, phone calls and other informal methods of pickup requests are not accepted beginning July 3.

EHSA is also being used for hazardous (chemical) and radioactive waste pickup requests.

Learn more about the new process below and to access the link for EHSA.


Users will benefit from using the new waste pickup request process in the following ways:

  • Increased transparency to see submitted requests
  • Access to electronic records for waste pickups
  • Ability to create waste pickup request templates 
  • Ease of duplicating repeat pickup requests
  • Request supplies such as disposal tags online

EHSA will also create consistency among customer requests and streamline the submission process through a single online system. 


Submit a Pickup Request

New users will need to register for EHSA and use Purdue Login to access the system.

Please copy and paste this URL directly into the browser address bar (Purdue Network only):

If you are using a non-Purdue supported computer or are located off campus, you will need to login to the WebVPN2 first before attempting to access EHSA. View a Purdue IT Knowledge Base article for instructions.


For general questions and those related to the EHSA system, contact For biological waste questions, contact 765-494-0121 or

Animal Carcass Disposal Procedures

EHS does not pick up animal carcasses. However, they can be taken to Purdue’s Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) for incineration. 

  1. Collect frozen carcasses, tissues, etc. in cardboard boxes. ADDL’s incinerator will not accept any chemicals or inorganic material, such as gloves, bandages, or plastic (syringes, bags), etc. However, if the outside of the cardboard box is wet it can be placed in a garbage bag.
  2. Take your boxes to ADDL anytime Thursday or by noon on Friday. ADDL is located at 406 S. University St., West Lafayette, IN 47906.
  3. Go to the front desk and fill out a Disposal form. An account number and faculty name is necessary as there is a charge for this service.
    • The charge depends on what is being incinerated. If it is over 50 lbs., the charge will be per animal; otherwise the charge is applied on a volume basis.
  4. Once the form is complete, go to the back dock and drop off the boxes there. The staff should be able to assist as needed.

If you have any additional questions, call EHS 765-494-0121 or email

Campus Safety Contacts

call 911

If you see something, say something.

Purdue Police
Phone: (765) 494-8221

Purdue Fire
Phone: (765) 494-6919


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