Sharps and Laboratory Glass


Sharps waste is regulated by state law and requires special handling. Sharps are instruments used to puncture or cut body parts. In a waste container, sharps can cause cuts, punctures and potential exposure to waste handlers. Laboratory glass and plastic waste are not technically sharps but can puncture regular waste bags and injure waste handlers. The rules for packaging and disposal of laboratory glass and plastic waste differ depending on whether or not the items are contaminated. To learn more about working safely with sharps, see Sharps Safety in Research.

Sharps waste

Biohazardous lab glass and plastic waste

Nonhazardous lab glass and plastic waste

What you can do to stay safe

  • Learn to identify sharps waste vs. laboratory glass and plastic waste.
  • Keep sharps waste separate from all other waste streams.
  • Sharps waste and biohazardous lab glass and plastic waste must be decontaminated prior to disposal.
  • Take the required and recommended safety training courses.
  • Learn more about working safely with sharps.

Treatment and disposal of sharps waste and laboratory glass and plastic waste varies, depending on your location. Refer to the flow charts on the Biohazardous Waste page for your location for specific treatment and disposal information.

Services available

EH&S biosafety officers can assist with training, consultation and help with any biosafety questions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If your building does not have a personal sharps container, keep them in a sharps container or other rigid container, and then take all of your personal sharps home for disposal. Follow the guidance for personal sharps disposal for per your county of residence: King County, Pierce County, or Snohomish County.


EH&S Research and Occupational Safety

(206) 221-7770
Reference Files