Skip to Content

Environmental Health and Safety

Biological & Infectious Waste

Infectious waste may also be referred to as medical or biohazardous waste. This waste is material that was used in healthcare or research. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), infectious waste includes:

  • Sharps — any waste that may cause a puncture or cut such as needles and syringes, razor blades, scalpels, Pasteur pipettes, pipette tips
  • Microbiological specimens — culture dishes, vaccines and other waste that has been exposed to human pathogenic agents
  • Blood and blood products — unabsorbed blood or blood products, or absorbed blood when the absorbent is supersaturated (drips when squeezed)
  • Pathological waste — parts removed from the human body (unless preserved by a preserving agent) and certain body fluids
  • Contaminated animal waste — parts, bodies and bedding of animals exposed to human pathogens
  • Other waste — any other waste designated as infectious or any material that has come in contact with infectious waste

USC Waste Policies

According to university policy, infectious waste more specifically also includes biological agents (viral and bacterial cultures, human cells lines, tissue samples, organs, blood and blood products, vaccines) used in research laboratories and other waste generated during the manipulation of these biological agents (media, serum, agar, consumables, gloves, etc). 

Sharps Waste

Sharps must be disposed immediately or as soon as possible after use in a puncture-resistant, labeled or color-coded, leak-proof biohazard sharps container. 

Liquid Infectious Waste

Liquid infectious waste must be decontaminated prior to disposal by either using an appropriate disinfectant (preferred for larger volumes) or autoclaving (only for smaller volumes). 

Solid Infectious Waste

Solid infectious waste must be collected in a biohazard autoclave bag and decontaminated by autoclaving prior to disposal in the larger biohazard waste containers stored in the autoclave rooms for pickup. Infectious waste autoclave bags (red or orange bags), biohazard sharps containers, and any other materials labeled with a biohazard symbol must never be discarded in the general trash.

For additional guidance, please review the USC Biological and Infectious Waste Management Plan [pdf].


Infectious Waste Pickups & Contacts

Environmental Health and Safety assists to coordinate the handling, storage and disposal of all infectious waste generated at the University of South Carolina in a safe manner and in compliance with applicable regulations. All biological waste on the Columbia campus is picked up every Tuesday. If you need to request an additional pickup or have issues with improper collection or disposal of infectious waste in the autoclave rooms, please email your requests or concerns to or text/call 803-422-2122 with the following information:

  • Building
  • Room number
  • Pickup request or specific collection/disposal concern

Question about waste or disposal?

If you have questions regarding proper disposal of a specific type of biological or infectious waste, please contact Sherika Smith at or 803-777-1625.

Biological and Infectious Waste Resources

USC Biological & Infectious Waste Management Plan [pdf]

Biological Spill Procedures [pdf]

Biological Spill Sign [pdf]

USC Autoclave Safety Training Guide [pdf]

School of Medicine Biological Waste Disposal Guide [pdf]

SC DHEC Infectious Waste

SC DHEC Infectious Waste Regulation-Overview

SC DHEC Infectious Waste Package, Storage, Transport, Treatment

SC DHEC Regulation 61-105 :SC Infectious Waste Management [pdf]

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.