Treatment and disposal of biohazardous trash is a vital step toward protecting laboratory and service personnel from infectious disease. Appropriate waste disposal is also necessary to protect the environment and the community. Treatment and disposal of biological waste is regulated by federal and state agencies. Guidelines for the treatment of laboratory biohazardous waste by users are outlined below. Contact the Division of Research Safety (DRS) at 217-333-2755 or via email with questions.

Cultures, Stocks, and Disposable Labware

Lab supplies used in experiments with biological material (e.g., cell cultures/microorganisms, disposable labware, recombinant DNA, human/animal tissues) may be treated by the generator prior to disposal by an approved decontamination method such as autoclaving or chemical disinfection. Sharps disposal and biological waste requiring incineration are collected and disposed of by the DRS.

Treatment by Autoclave

Laboratories that produce biohazardous waste should decontaminate waste with an autoclave located in the building where the waste is generated. Any bag displaying the biohazard symbol must be over bagged with an opaque trash bag and sealed prior to disposal in the regular waste stream. Bags with the biohazard symbol, regardless of use, must not be placed in the regular waste stream without being over bagged. For more information about autoclave procedures, see our Autoclave–Safety and Operation page.

Chemical Disinfection

The autoclave may not always be a suitable or preferred method for decontamination. Biohazardous waste can also be disinfected by using an EPA-registered chemical disinfectant such as 10% bleach, 70% isopropanol, or 3% hydrogen peroxide. A fresh 10% bleach solution for at least 60 minutes contact time is adequate to disinfect most liquid waste. The DRS should be consulted for appropriate uses of alternate decontamination procedures. After chemical disinfection,  procedures for the disposal of  chemicals can be found here.

Biohazardous Waste Containers

Biohazardous or “redbag” waste should be collected in an autoclavable bag that is stored in a leak-proof container with a lid and displays the international biohazard symbol. Any leak-proof plastic waste container with a lid can easily be converted to a biohazard container by placing biohazard stickers on the sides and lid. More information about biohazard containers can be found on the DRS Biosafety Lab Supplies page. The DRS provides free biohazard stickers that can be requested via email


Many proteinacious biotoxins may be treated by the user prior to disposal. More information can be found on the Disposal of Biotoxins page.

Last Updated: 4/18/2023