The University of Iowa

Biohazardous Waste: Instructions for Preparing Containers for Disposal

This procedure establishes the steps required for properly preparing biohazardous waste for disposal through a contracted service. It applies to biohazardous waste/waste containers handled by either lab staff or custodial staff.

Contact information and areas of expertise may be found on the Contact Us page.


Custodians: Red Tubs Filled and Closed by Lab Staff

  1. Lab staff places red tubs in the customary area, hallway or lab.
  2. Inspect the tub for a completed Biohazardous Waste Certification label (must include printed name, signature, room, building, and date).
  3. If no label is present or the label is not completed with name, signature, room and building, do not remove the tub. Attach a note explaining why the tub was not taken away.
  4. If a completed label is present, move the tub to the designated dock area.
  5. Attach a bar code label next to the signature label.
  6. Stack tubs, no more than three high.

Laboratorians: Filling and Closing a Red Tub.

  1. Refer to the Biohazardous Waste Disposal Guide and Biohazardous Waste Guidelines Poster for the types or materials that are appropriate to be disposed of in a biohazardous waste container. Do not dispose of chemical or radioactive waste in biohazardous waste containers. Please note: the biowaste contractor autoclaves all red-bagged waste, unless it is specifically designated for incineration, e.g., animal carcasses.
  2. Place red liners in the tub. Liners are thin and easily torn or punctured. Double or triple-line all tubs. 
  3. Place either a filled biohazardous waste box or sharps container into the lined tub, or place waste directly in the lined tub; do not overfill. Limit weight of tub to under 50 pounds. Make sure that liner is not punctured or torn by pipettes or other objects. At a minimum always double-line all tubs.
  4. When a tub is full, tie the outermost red liner with a gooseneck knot and place a lid on the tub. Refer to EHS biohazardous Waste Tub Closing Instructions.
  5. Complete the Biohazardous Waste Certification label (requires printed name, signature, room, building, and date).
  6. Remove one-half of the label backing only.
  7. Stick the signed and dated label on the side of the tub next to a handle so it overhangs on a container edge for easier removal later. Custodians will not remove containers without the completed Biohazardous Waste Certification label.
  8. Place red tubs in the customary area, hallway or lab

Orphan Containers

  1. Report orphan containers to EHS.
  2. EHS staff will investigate.

Frequently Asked Questions