Office of Energy & Sustainability

Lab Waste

Lab Waste





What can be recycled in labs?


Reagent and media bottles

     --> Bottles must be triple-rinsed, and labels should be crossed out.

     --> Original containers must not contain radioactive isotopes or chemicals, biological hazards (treated or untreated), or acutely toxic chemicals (P-listed).

Note 1: if you have an accumulation of large bottles (more than 2), then you need to submit a work order for bulk pick up.

Note 2: Sometimes labs complain that their bottles are not picked up. This can happen if it's not clear that they are meant for recycling, as the housekeepers don't want to risk to throw out something that a lab may still need. Therefore, place them next to the recycling and clearly label them as in the picture below. If submitting a bulk pick up request, then label as"For recycling".

Rinsed bottles

Cleaned containers (pipette tip boxes, other rigid plastic containers, etc.)

Pipette tip box waste


Can be recycled if clean.

Paper recycling

Cardboard boxes

Can be recycled if clean.

Cardboard waste

Aluminum foil

Can be recycled if clean.

Aluminum foil waste


What Can Be Placed in the Trash?


Lab materials such as PPE and paper towels with minor exposures to non-acute toxics or non-hazardous materials can be rinsed and disposed of with regular trash.

Reducing red bag waste can improve the environmental footprint of the lab because red bags go through an energy and water-demanding autoclaving process before being sent to landfills.


What is considered contaminated and goes into red bag waste?

Red bag


  • All BSL-2 & BSL-3 PPE are considered contaminated because of their use with infectious agents and must be disposed of as red bag waste. 
  • PPE used in BSL-1 procedures is considered contaminated until it is disinfected with 10% bleach, soap, or other disinfectant.
  • PPE with significant exposure to non-acute toxics or non-hazardous materials.


Items exposed to HHOPs or with significant chemical exposure should be collected as chemical waste.

Chemical waste


Contact EHS for more information.

Did you know

30% of Municipal Solid Waste is compostable food and yard waste.

Office of Energy & Sustainability 1300 York Avenue, LC006, Box 14, New York, NY 10065