5.5 Sharp Waste Management

All laboratories that generate sharp or pointed waste are responsible for the separation, packaging and treatment of their laboratory waste prior to its removal and disposal. Questions should be directed to the Environmental Protection Services at 416.946.3473 or e-mail hazwaste.ehs@utoronto.ca

The term “sharp” is often used as a catch-all expression for any and all sharp or pointed items such as broken glassware, scalpel and razor blades, lancets, hypodermic syringes with needles, etc., which can cause cuts or puncture injuries. In this manual, sharp waste is subdivided into two categories:

These categories are defined and addressed separately. The waste packaging requirements differ.

5.5.1 Needles, Scalpels and Blades

5.5.1.1 Definition
5.5.1.2 Packaging
5.5.1.3 Labelling
5.5.1.4 Storage/Disposal

 

5.5.1.1  Definition

Needle and blade waste is

  • hypodermic, surgical, suture, or IV needles, syringes with needles, lancets, scalpels, blades and similar metallic sharp or pointed items for disposal that are capable of causing punctures, cuts, or tears in skin or membranes.

5.5.1.2  Packaging

  • All needle and blade waste for disposal must be carefully collected in an approved needle and blade waste container. Three autoclavable, yellow plastic containers (B-D Guardian 300439, 300460, and 300466), all complying with CSA Standard Z316.6-95, have been selected and approved for the collection and disposal of needle and blade waste generated at the University of Toronto. Their capacities range from 1.4 litres to 7.6 litres.
  • These 3 yellow containers are available from Stores in the Medical Sciences Building.

B-D Guardian Number         300460         #300466         #300439
Capacity:                          1.4 litre         3.1 litre             7.6 litre
Size:                                 small             medium             large
MDC Number                     41121             41120             41119

  • The use of other containers manufactured for the collection of needle and blade waste may be preferred or necessary in some work places having specialized requirements. In these situations, a specimen of the preferred container must be submitted to the Biosafety Office. All such containers must be CSA Standard compliant, yellow, and sized so that they can be placed into a 20 litre pail for disposal.
  • Needle and blade waste contaminated with or containing viable biological agents and trace amounts of hazardous chemical or radioactive material, singly or in any combination, can be collected together in the same yellow container for needle and blade waste. In most cases, the quantity of potentially hazardous material adhering to used needles and blades will be minimal and present in trace amounts only. All liquids containing hazardous chemical or radioactive materials must be drained from disposable syringes and collected for appropriate disposal.
  • The yellow containers for needle and blade waste must not be filled beyond capacity, to prevent injuries due to overfilling. Needles and blades must never be forcibly pushed into a container.
  • Needles should not be recapped, purposely bent or broken by hand, removed from disposable syringes, or otherwise manipulated by hand.
  • Loose needle and blade waste must not be placed directly into a 20 litre pail.
  • Empty 4 litre sodium hypochlorite bleach jugs and similar plastic containers are not acceptable for the collection and disposal of needle and blade waste.
  • Needle and blade waste for disposal must not be placed into office garbage containers or plastic bags of solid waste.

a) Biologically contaminated needle and blade waste

  • According to the principles of universal blood and body fluid precautions, all needles and blades used in medical care, diagnosis, and research, including the manipulation and care of laboratory animals, should be considered potentially infectious. Needles and blades pose a risk to those who use them and needle and blade waste may pose a health risk to those involved in its handling, transportation, and disposal.
  • If the needle and blade waste is contaminated with or contains viable biological agents, it must be treated to inactivate the biological agents, as outlined in Section 5.1. The designated yellow containers for needle and blade waste are autoclavable. The filled container may be steam sterilized along with other laboratory waste.

Caution: Although the yellow containers for needle and blade waste collection are puncture-resistant, care must be used when they are loaded into and removed from the autoclave chamber. After autoclaving, the plastic container will be very hot.  To avoid the possibility of injury, never squeeze, push, or apply force to a container of needles and blades.

  • Steam sterilization is generally not recommended for laboratory waste contaminated with or containing a combination or mixture of viable biological agents and significant amounts of hazardous chemical or radioactive materials. These situations will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Contact the Environmental Protection Technicians at 416.946.3473.
  • Chemical disinfection of needle and blade waste is generally not recommended since it requires additional handling, increasing the potential risk of injury. Consult Section 5.1 for procedures.

b) Chemically contaminated needle and blade waste

  • Needle and blade waste containing trace amounts of a hazardous chemical must be collected in a yellowcontainer. All liquids containing hazardous chemicals must be drained from disposable syringes and collected for appropriate disposal. Autoclaving may be required if the waste is contaminated with viable biological agents.
  • For needle and blade waste contaminated with significant amounts of a hazardous chemical, the chemical should be deactivated in accordance with the procedures outlined in the chemical’s Material Safety Data Sheet, prior to disposal. Environmental Protection Services may be consulted for further chemical deactivation procedures.

c) Radioactively contaminated needle and blade waste

  • Needle and blade waste containing trace radioactive materials must be collected in a yellow sharps container. All liquids containing radioactive material must be drained from the disposable syringes and collected for appropriate disposal. Autoclaving of the sharps may be required if any of the needle and blade waste is contaminated with viable biological agents.
  • Needle and blade waste contaminated with significant quantities (any quantity greater than listed for select isotopes in Table 2 Column E) of radioactive materials must be disposed as radioactive waste.
  • Environmental Health and Safety will provide containers for sharps contaminated with significant quantities of radioactive materials. Contact EPS at 416.946.3473 prior to start of any work  for container drop off. The liquids must still be drained from the syringes into the appropriate colour-coded radioactive liquid waste container.
  • Needles and sharps must be placed into thisprovided plastic container.  Do not overfill of force waste into the container.  The collected waste must not interfere with the installation of the lid.
  • The container must be clearly labelled to indicate that it contains radioactive needle and blade waste. The activity, isotope, solvent, date and permit number should be indicated on the waste tag.

5.5.1.3 Labelling

No specific additional labelling is required. The yellow container for the collection of needle and blade waste is supplied with an affixed standard label indicating either a maximum safe capacity / full level or a statement warning against overfilling and forcing objects into the yellow container. The universal biohazard warning symbol (Figure 1) may also be displayed.  In those situations where the biohazard warning symbol is inappropriate or unnecessary, this symbol should be covered or defaced with a black marking pen or equivalent.

biohazard warning symbol

Figure 1. Universal Biohazard Warning Symbol

5.5.1.4 Storage / Disposal

Sterilization, disinfection or decontamination of needle and blade waste may be required prior to disposal. The filled yellow plastic container of needle and blade waste must be closed by securing the attached cap over the top opening. The yellow container should be placed with the other biological waste pails for disposal. The Environmental Protection Technicians  416.946.3473 will collect them during their scheduled pickup. Containers with chemically contaminated needles and blades will need to call the Environmental Protection Technicians for a pickup as only permitted Biosafety laboratories are on a regular schedule. The only exception is for those containing radioactive waste, call 416.946.3473 but identify as Rad Waste for a pickup.

5.5.2 Glassware and Plasticware Waste

All laboratories that generate glass and plastic waste are responsible for the packaging of their laboratory waste prior to its removal and disposal. Glassware, plastic pipettes and micropipette tips should not be disposed of as regular garbage as they can puncture plastic garbage bags and may present a risk of injury.

The University provides a Non-hazardous Laboratory Glass and Plastics Recycling Program . Clean, non-hazardous material, is to be separated into glass and plastic and placed in the appropriate toter. Gloves and all other garbage are to be kept out of the recycling toters.Amber glass is to be recycled separately. Bottles must be clean and empty. They may be placed in the brown toters (if available) or set aside for pick up by caretaking.  Toters for disposal are provided by the Recycling Department and are serviced by the caretakers/building service workers.  Please note that the orange bucket program has been phased out.

Contact the Manager, Environmental Protection at 416.978.7000 or email hazwaste.ehs@utoronto.ca with any questions.

5.5.2.1 Definition
5.5.2.2 Packaging
5.5.2.3 Labelling
5.5.2.4 Storage/Disposal

 

5.5.2.1 Definition

Glassware and plasticware waste is any disposable

  • intact or broken laboratory containers such as flasks, beakers, bottles, etc.;
  • small glass containers, ampoules and tubes;
  • glass and plastic pipettes and micropipette tips.

5.5.2.2 Packaging

  • Broken glassware, intact small glass containers and tubes, and glass and plastic pipettes must be regarded as potentially sharp and pointed objects and placed into the appropriate cloured toter as outline in the  Non-hazardous Laboratory Glass and Plastics Recycling Program . Glassware must not protrude such that the lid cannot be closed.
  • Glassware waste must not be placed into regular office garbage containers or plastic bags of solid waste.
Service workers have been instructed to not remove loose, broken glass on bench tops or floors and to not remove bags of solid waste containing glassware.
  • Do not put laboratory glassware into the general recycling bins. Its composition may differ from that of recyclable glass containers.
  • Very long or large glassware for disposal which does not completely fit into a toter may be placed into a cardboard container after any necessary disinfection or decontamination. The glassware must be fully enclosed by the cardboard container.
  • The cardboard container must be closed, taped shut and labelled “GLASS for DISPOSAL- CAUTION”.
  • The sealed labelled cardboard container may be placed beside other waste awaiting removal by building service workers.
  • The glassware must be free of biological, chemical or radioactive contaminants and liquids.

a) Biologically contaminated glassware

  • All containers must be empty and placed into the 20 litre Bio Waste pails supplied by Environmental Protection Services 416.946.3473.
  • Autoclaving of the 20 litre Bio Waste pail is NOT to be done at any time as it ruins the integrity of the pail..
  • The pail must be placed with the other biological waste awaiting removal by the Environmental Protection Technicians 416.946.3473.
  • Laboratories using large amounts of bottled cell culturing media and animal serum should contact the Environmental Protection Technicians to review other methods of packing the waste.

b) Chemically contaminated glassware and containers

  • Chemically contaminated glassware should be triple rinsed and/or decontaminated and placed into appropriate coloured Toter supplied by Facilities and Services Department and available from the caretakers/building service workers.
  • Should the lab staff determine that the rinse from the glassware cleaning is hazardous, it should be collected, packaged and labeled as a chemical waste.
  • For empty chemical containers that cannot be triple rinsed because of hazard or size, contact Environmental Protection Services 416.946.3473 for location of drums for contaminated glassware and plasticware.
  • Small, empty chemical containers that did not contain hazardous materials must be thoroughly rinsed. The original label must be defaced or removed and the container must be placed into the Teal coloured Toter along with other glassware for disposal.
  • Alternatively, use the empty container to package chemical wastes for disposal. This eliminates the problem of finding suitable containers to package chemical waste as well as the disposal of an empty container.
  • Do not put empty chemical containers and laboratory glassware into the general recycling bins.

c) Radioactively contaminated glassware

  • No flasks, bottles, tubes, etc., containing any amount of free liquid are allowed in the solid waste containers.
  • Do not put laboratory glassware into the solid radioactive waste containers or into the general recycling bins.
  • All free liquid from glassware must be drained into the appropriate colour-coded radioactive liquid waste container as outlined in Table 1. No liquid scintillation counting vials containing counting fluid are allowed in the radioactive solid waste container.
  • Empty glassware, including glass pipettes must be decontaminated and free from contamination, prior to disposal as non radioactive glassware. If glassware cannot be decontaminated, consult with EPS at 416.946.3473 prior to disposal.

5.5.2.3 Labelling

  • Biological contaminated glassware in pails requires the Bio Waste tag provided with the 20 litre Bio Waste pail to be filled in completely.
  • Chemically contaminated glassware, if not dropped off at the contaminated glass and plastic drum location, should be labeled with the supplied hazardous chemical waste label.
  • Radioactive contaminated glassware has no standard label BUT must be identified as a Radioactive Waste on the container.
  • 20 litre orange pails labeled ‘Decontaminated Broken Glass Only’ have space for marking the Building Name and Room Number on them.

5.5.2.4 Storage / Disposal

  • Do not overfill the coloured Toters (Non-hazardous Laboratory Glass and Plastics Recycling Program); allow a minimum 2″ head space below the brim to allow installation of the lid. Building service workers have been instructed to not remove overfilled Toters and to not remove bags of solid waste containing glass.