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Disposal of Plastic Serological Pipettes

All plastic pipettes, regardless of contamination status should be segregated from other lab wastes because they readily puncture waste and trash bags which increases spill potential.

Disposal recommendations: Pipettes that ARE NOT biologically-contaminated

The following recommendation applies to waste pipettes that ARE NOT contaminated with body fluids, cell debris, or other materials that may contain infectious agents or recombinant DNA molecules.

Pipettes should be placed in a dedicated container that is lined with a sturdy trash bag, and configured in such a way that pipettes are oriented in one direction.  The container should be clearly marked “waste pipettes only- NO biohazardous waste” or comparable wording to ensure that all personnel are notified of the intent of the container.  To dispose of the pipettes, the trash bag should be tied closed and transferred to a cardboard box (if it’s not stored in one already).  The box should be taped closed and “trash” should be written on the box.  It is highly recommended that lab personnel remove the box directly to a nearby dumpster.  In some buildings, custodial personnel may remove the box from the lab.

Disposal recommendations: Pipettes that ARE biologically contaminated

Waste pipettes that ARE contaminated with body fluids, cell debris, or other materials that may contain infectious agents or recombinant DNA molecules must be segregated, stored, treated and disposed of as biohazardous waste.  There are various ways that this can be achieved as long as the basic principles of biohazardous waste handling and disposal are followed.  Here are examples of acceptable practices:

  •  Cardboard boxes are convenient collection containers but they are not leak proof and cannot be disinfected.  Therefore, if you use a cardboard box as your collection container, you must use it as a one-time collection container only.  Additionally, you should restrict the use of cardboard boxes to circumstances where they will be filled and replaced frequently.
  • Pipette washers or 5-gallon buckets may be lined with a biohazard bag and used for pipette segregation.  In this scenario, ensure that the outside of the container has a biohazard label.  When the bag is full, pipettes can be treated by autoclave or disposal through the medical waste hauler.
    • If treating by autoclave: After autoclave treatment, bags of pipettes should then be placed in a designated “Autoclave-treated Waste” containers.
    • If disposing through the medical waste contractor: Transfer the bag of pipettes to a contractor-approved container and close container per provided instructions.
  • Waste pipettes may also be collected in a receptacle containing disinfectant (i.e., pipette washer) at the time of use.  A biohazard label and identification of the disinfectant should be on the receptacle.  The pipettes should be placed in the receptacle so that the contaminated tips are submerged in the disinfectant.  At the conclusion of procedures, the pipettes can be drained and transferred from the receptacle to a biohazard bag for treatment by autoclave, or disposal through the medical waste hauler.
    • If treating by autoclave: After autoclave treatment, bags of pipettes should then be placed in a designated “Autoclave-treated Waste” containers.
    • If disposing through the medical waste hauler: Transfer the bag of pipettes to a cardboard box. The entire box must be closed and placed in a biohazard bag for treatment and disposal through the medical waste hauler.

Contact the Biosafety Officer at 974-1938 if you are using a different system to manage your pipettes to determine if it meets the biohazardous waste handling requirements.

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