Throwing things away

Keywords: rubbish, trash, recycling, discard, recycle, trashing, waste

Remember, you can use the "Search" feature in the upper right of this page or the "Find" feature in your web browser to find what you're looking for in the list below.

Office-type stuff:

    • Coffee cups: Plastic lid goes in the recycling, as does the cardboard collar if you have one. The cup itself (wax-lined, full of food) goes in the trash.

    • Cardboard and styrofoam boxes: place unwanted cardboard boxes in the hallway and the custodial staff will make them disappear

    • Paper, plastic (#1-7), aluminium cans: All of these can be recycled in the hallway recycling containers

    • Plastic bags/thin plastic films: Unfortunately, those clog the recycling machines. Regular trash. Or give them to Jenn, who is crazy and mails them out to be upcycled.

    • Paper wrappers from a ream of copy paper: are lined with plastic film - regular trash

    • Toner (printer toner): put in the recycling area near the vending machines in Feldberg

Orlando is our usual custodian, and if we have a problem the procedure is to grab him in the hall and ask - he's generally a helpful and great guy. He usually comes in the morning to empty the trash. Other people may come in the afternoon.

Science-type stuff:

    • Animal experimental waste (non-infectious): Our lab animals are not considered infectious, and paper towels and diapers that have touched our animals can be disposed of in the regular trash.

      • Trash associated with non-hazardous animal waste (e.g. diapers, paper towels, plastic items, etc.) should NOT be put in bags with carcasses. The disposal service that Foster uses cannot handle this type of waste. Failure to comply may result in loss of privileges!

    • Animal Carcasses: Animal carcasses that have not been exposed to viruses should be placed in black bags and stored in the -10C freezer in room 327. Any animal that has had a virus injection or a large implant (like a head cap for in vivo ephys) should be placed in a black bag marked with tape (any color is fine) and stored in the same -10C freezer as normal carcasses. The tape allows the person in charge of carcass disposal to identify which animals should be placed in the hazardous, on-site disposal bin and which should go to the general animal disposal bin in Foster.

      • If you need to dispose of a small animal (e.g. a mouse), it is fine to put the carcass in a latex or nitrile glove instead of a black bag.

    • Autoclaved waste: Some of our biohazardous (infectious) waste needs to be autoclaved (sterilized by steam heat) before we can dispose of it. After autoclaving, the material needs to be placed into dark trash bags. The lab is responsible for providing the dark trash bags.

    • Dry ice: Throw it in the TRASHCAN, NOT THE SINK. Really. Never ever ever the sink - the cold cracks the pipes.

  • Empty glass containers of toxic chemicals (such as isoflurane): SEE THE EXAMPLE FOR ISOFLURANE BELOW 1) Rinse the glass bottle 3 times with the appropriate solvent; 2) dispose of the solvent in a hazardous liquid waste container that is labeled with the contents (solvent name + chemical name); 3) obliterate the label off of the glass bottle (with sharpie is fine); 4) dispose of the glass container in normal glass waste OR 4b) reuse the bottle for a different kind of waste - stick a waste label over the old label, and fill it out for the new contents as usual.

Here are hazardous chemicals in the lab, with their solvents if applicable:

      • Isoflurane -- solvent is methanol

          • 1. Put a small amount of methanol (a transfer pipet works well) into the iso bottle, swirl vigorously to rinse all the sides.

            • 2. Pour out the methanol/iso rinse into a waste bottle that is labeled for this purpose, NOT the formaldehyde waste. The waste should be labeled with a methanol/isoflurane waste tag. Old isoflurane bottles work well.

            • 3. Repeat the rinse process for a total of three washes.

            • 4. Close the methanol/iso waste. If it's full, date the tag and call for pickup @6-2561.

            • 5. Obliterate all hazard symbols and chemical names on the now-clean isoflurane bottle with a black marker. It must be clear that the markings are deliberate - a line through the label does not cut it.

            • 6. Throw the clean iso bottle in the glass bin (back of 327).

        • Acetone -- unlike for home nail polish removal, this goes in the hazardous waste stream

        • Fluoromount-G: Contains Sodium Azide, which is toxic. Put in waste bucket in hood in a Ziplock bag with a hazardous waste tag.

        • Formaldehyde/formalin -- solvent is water

        • Methanol (be sure to note that it's contaminated with isoflurane, if it is).

        • Golgi-Cox Solution -- Orange solution, typically with dark orange-brown precipitate. Very toxic, wear gloves, lab coat, close-toed shoes, etc. Dispose of in marked waste container in the fume hood in 327. Dispose of any dry waste contaminated with Golgi-Cox in the Golgi-contaminated solid waste bag in the 327 fume hood. All contaminated tissue should also be disposed of in appropriate hazardous waste container.

    • Glass waste: should be put in a glass waste box (kept in 327). When 75% full, the carton should be labeled as trash and dragged out into the hall for the custodians to remove. New cartons can be ordered, or cardboard boxes can be repurposed and glass waste signs can be obtained from the Safety Officer (Andy Finn).

    • Liquid hazardous chemical waste: Liquid hazardous waste should be placed in one of the special waste bottles in the fume hood in room 327. Each waste bottle should be labeled with its contents, and the date should be added when the bottle is full. (Note that paraformaldehyde / formalin waste from perfusions is collected directly under the downdraft sink in room 330-A.) When a liquid waste bottle gets full, call 6-2561 and leave a detailed message (what form and quantity; location - room and building; your name; in the message, ask for more containers and, if necessary, more tags). Triumverate waste company comes on Mondays and Thursdays (sometimes Tues/Thurs, depending on holidays), and they also check the tank every week. Their Sales & Service Representatives can be contacted at 1-888-834-9697

    • Solid hazardous chemical waste: Most solid hazardous waste (such as gloves that have touched paraformaldehyde, or small bits of animal tissue that have been fixed) can be disposed of in the 5 gallon bucket (with lid) in room 327. When it gets full, call 6-2561 and leave a detailed message (what form and quantity; location - room and building; your name; in the message, ask for more containers and, if necessary, more tags).

    • Bacterial waste: Add bleach to liquids up to 10% bleach, and wait 20 mins. Dispose of liquid down the drain, then wash containers/beakers as usual. Throw solids and plasticware into a biohazard trash container lined with a clear, colorless plastic bag. When the bag is full, seal with autoclave tape. Autoclave the waste in on the dry cycle for 15 or more minutes. Discard in the regular trash.

    • Virus waste: Everything virus related is down in Foster - dipose of solid waste in the biohazard bin, and all sharps in the biohazard sharps bin. At the end of a surgery, seal the bags closed with tape and bring them to the biohazard disposal box in the hallway. Close biohazard bins when 3/4 full and bring them to the same disposal box.

    • Sharps: In the main Bassine lab, dispose of all sharps immediately after use in a biohazard sharps bin. Do not recap needles. Do not leave sharps lying around for any length of time unattended. If there's any liquid left in the syringe, express it into the box or onto a kimwipe before throwing away. When a sharps bin is 3/4 full, seal it, move it to the chemical fume hood, and call for pickup at 6-2561. DO NOT put on a Hazardous Waste label. You may list the drugs in the bin if you wish in sharpie on the outside of the box as follows: "Contains trace amounts of:..." (Yes, I checked with Andy Finn.)

    • Related - Expired/unusable drugs: Do NOT throw these in the sharps bin. Any significant volume of a drug (greater than 0.5ml or so), either expired or accidentally overdrawn or contaminated must be given to Andy Finn for disposal. Email Andy ( to arrange a pickup. Keep the drug locked until disposal. So. If you have a syringe with 2mL ketamine that you suddenly can't use: 1. take off the needle and put the needle in the sharps. 2. get out a plastic bag and put in the needle-less syringe, then close the bag. 3. label the bag with a waste label saying "ketamine", etc. 4. LOCK UP THE BAG IN THE DRUG DRAWER. 5. Email Andy and arrange pickup.

    • Cauterizers: You know those battery-operated things that heat up a filament to red-hot when you press the little button? You need to break them apart to disconnect them so that they don't accidentally set a pile of trash on fire. Take care! The unit might heat up while you're cracking it open! Then recycle the batteries and toss the rest in the trash. If you don't want to smash it yourself, Andy Finn says it's fun and will do it for you.

    • Lighters: If they have no fluid in them, they can be thrown in the regular trash. If they have fuel in them, they must be collected and given to the Safety Office (, Andy Finn) for disposal.

No-nos (things not to do):

    1. Do not throw away non-hazardous waste into the hazardous waste bucket, or vice versa.

    2. Do not throw dry ice in the sink (it freezes and cracks the pipes); instead, use the trash can where it will harmlessly sublimate away.

    3. Do NOT throw animal carcasses in the regular trash or solid paraformaldehyde waste. They belong in a freezer.