Search below for common lab items that you may need to dispose of. If you are unsure or you have encountered conflicting information with Environmental Health & Safety, please defer to the EH&S Guidelines and contact greenlabs@wustl.edu for clarification.

Aerosol cans

Pressurized or not empty

  • Any aerosol can that is pressurized or not empty is managed as hazardous waste by EH&S.

Non-pressurized or empty

  • Any aerosol can that has no pressure and is completely empty is garbage. Write “empty” on the can and place it in the garbage. They can also be dropped off for recycling at Saint Louis Household Hazardous Waste locations.
Batteries

Federal, State, and institutional policies all regulate how batteries should be disposed of. Various battery types should be disposed of in different ways.

Alkaline

  • Commonly referred to as disposable or non-rechargeable. EH&S does not currently collect these batteries and they cannot be effectively recycled. Dispose of them in the normal trash. We also recommend using alternative rechargeable batteries when available.

Lead Acid Batteries

  • Considered hazardous material, should contact EH&S for collection.

Nickel-Cadmium Batteries

  • Considered hazardous material, should contact EH&S for collection.

Button Cell Batteries

  • Considered hazardous material, should contact EH&S for collection.

Refer to the EH&S Battery Recycling and Disposal Guidance for more information.

Biohazardous waste

Washington University treats all of the following as Regulated Biological Waste: 

  • Isolation wastes – wastes generated by patients who have communicable disease capable of being transmitted to other via those wastes
  • Contaminated surgical, dialysis and lab wastes
  • Cultures and stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals
  • Any recombinant DNA-containing materials
  • Blood and blood products
  • Pathology wastes
  • Sharps
  • Animal Carcasses
  • Chemotherapy wastes

Dependent on the type of waste, it should be packaged in red biohazard bags and disposed of through EH&S or your department.

Consult the EH&S Biological Waste Disposal Guidance for more information.

Books

Paperback

  • May be placed in regular recycling. Please do not make recycling too heavy.

Hardback

  • The hard cover cannot be recycled, consider donating.
  • If donation is not possible, remove the hard covers, which must go in the landfill trash. The inner pages can be recycled like other paper.
Cardboard
  • Cardboard may be placed in the single-stream recycling can, please flatten boxes.
  • Place large flat boxes next to the recycling can.
  • Cardboard soiled with food that cannot be wiped off must be placed in the trash.
Chemical containers (empty)
  • All laboratory containers and materials approved for recycling must by tripled rinsed, labels defaced or removed, and uncapped before it is placed into one of the single stream recycling containers.

Please consult the EH&S Empty Chemical Container Recycling or Disposal in Laboratories Guide for more information.

Chemical, solvents, and hazardous waste
  • Store chemically contaminated unwanted materials in an appropriate container and contact EH&S for pick up.
  • Full or partially full chemical containers must also be disposed of through EH&S. 
  • The laboratory clean-out procedure is the best way to dispose of unused or old chemicals in bulk.

Refer to EH&S Chemical Waste and Unwanted Material in Laboratories checklist.

Coffee cups and lids

While food and drink are not permitted in lab spaces, please follow appropriate waste sorting processes while outside of the lab.

  • Paper and Styrofoam cups are not recyclable, dispose of in trash.
  • Coffee lids are sometimes recyclable, look for symbol. #6 plastic is not recyclable.
  • Cardboard or paper coffee cup sleeves are often recyclable.
  • Some coffee cups and lids are compostable, look for label and place in a compost container is available. Otherwise all compostable products must go in the landfill can.
Coffee pods and k-cups

While food and drink are not permitted in lab spaces, please follow appropriate waste sorting processes while outside of the lab.

  • Single use coffee pods are not recyclable, dispose of in trash.
  • Terracycle offers a special collection bin for coffee pods and pouches. Consider purchasing one if your breakroom uses a large amount of these and switching to a non-wasteful option is not possible.
Compostable serviceware

While food and drink are not permitted in lab spaces, please follow appropriate waste sorting processes while outside of the lab.

  • If available, place in compost bin. Otherwise, dispose of in trash
Composting and food scraps

While food and drink are not permitted in lab spaces, please follow appropriate waste sorting processes while outside of the lab.

  • If available, place in compost bin. Otherwise, dispose of in trash
Furniture
Gel packs (refrigerated and frozen)
  • Freezer gel packs are not recyclable and need to be disposed of in the trash.

  • Always try to save and reuse freezer gel packs when possible.
Gloves
  • Disposable lab gloves (nitrile, latex, etc.) must currently be disposed of in the trash or biohazard cans. 
  • Disposable gloves cannot go in the single-stream recycling.
  • Check with your glove vendor to see if they have a glove recycling program and contact greenlabs@wustl.edu to determine if your lab is eligible to implement recycling.
Lamps and lightbulbs
  • Incandescent – primarily used for residential lighting, can be disposed in the landfill
  • Fluorescent
  • High Intensity Discharge (HID)
  • Low-pressure sodium lamps
  • Ultra violet lamps – must be inventoried with radiation safety
  • Light emitting diode (LED) – items are currently considered electronic waste and should follow the requirements of the EH&S Equipment Disposal Policy.

Used lamps should be packaged with like kind and collected by EH&S within 1 year. For disposal, use the online pickup request form found on the EH&S website (ehs.wustl.edu) under the Hazardous Material Management link.

Landscape and yard waste
  • Land scape and yard waste should be placed in a green St. Louis yard waste bin. 
Mixed containers recycling

A variety of plastic and glass containers can be placed in St. Louis recycling.

All items need to be uncontaminated, empty, clean, and dry.  

  • Plastic bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs
  • Plastic containers
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Steel and tin cans
  • Aluminum bottles and cans, uncrushed
  • Aluminum foil and trays must be clean
  • Food cartons must be clean
    • Cartons from the freezer must go in the trash
  • Paper cups with a wax finish must go in the trash
  • Plastic cups are sorted based on the type of plastic, check the number labelled inside the recycling symbol
Paper

Paper without a glossy or plastic finish can be recycled. Items include:

  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Mail, including envelopes with plastic windows
  • Telephone books & paperback books
  • Paper
  • Shredded Paper
  • Paper bags
  • Gift wrap
Pipettes and tips

Noncontaminated glass pipettes and tips

  • Place in a broken glass box or cardboard box with a plastic bag liner
  • When box is full, tape closed, label “clean glass to be disposed”
  • Place next to garbage container for custodial services

Noncontaminated plastic pipettes

  • While the plastic is recyclable, the tips are too small to be placed in single stream recycling
  • Must be disposed of in trash

Contaminated tips

  • Biohazard contaminated materials need to be disposed of in biohazard containers as per EH&S policy
    • Items may be decontaminated using 10% bleach and placed in broken glass container
  • Radioactive materials must be labeled and immediately disposed of in radioactive waste, consult EH&S radioactive guidelines
  • Chemical contaminants should be triple rinsed and placed in broken glass or pipet disposal box

Please consult EH&S Pipette and Pipette Tip Disposal policy for further detail:

Plastic Serviceware

While food and drink are not permitted in lab spaces, please follow appropriate waste sorting processes while outside of the lab.

  • Plastic serviceware (forks, spoons, straws, etc.) is not recyclable and must be placed in trash.
  • Some serviceware is compostable, if so it will be clearly labelled. 
Plastic Cartridges and toner
Sharps

Sharps need to be placed in a sharps container. Containers are not provided by EH&S and must be purchased through a lab supplier. Request for sharps container to be picked up on the EH&S website.

Soft plastics and plastic film

Soft plastics such as bags and bubble wrap cannot be placed in generic recycling. They can be dropped off for recycling at most local grocery stores.

Styrofoam and packing peanuts
  • Styrofoam cannot be placed in the generic recycling
  • The facilities department periodically hosts Styrofoam collection days, be on the lookout for the next one
  • Large uncontaminated pieces of Styrofoam may be dropped off for recycling at Foam Products Corporation (FPC)
  • Some stores will accept returned packing peanuts to be reused
  • Consider reusing Styrofoam for storage or packaging
Surplus (appliances, office supplies, electronics, furniture)