Safety Policies and Procedures Manual
Chapter 4: Laboratory Safety

Disposal of Laboratory Glass Waste

SPPM 4.26

For more information contact:
   Environmental Health and Safety


University personnel who dispose of laboratory glass are responsible for following procedures in this section. Appropriate disposal of laboratory glass minimizes hazards to laboratory workers, custodians, and solid waste disposal employees.

Custodians and solid waste disposal employees are not required to dispose of any laboratory glass that is not placed in containers as described in this section.


The procedures in this section apply to the disposal of all WSU laboratory glass materials that are not for consumer use.

Laboratory Glass for Surplus

Consumer-usable laboratory glass materials are to be surplused.

Departments must follow the procedures in BPPM 20.76 and 20.77 to prepare and submit clean, usable, noncontaminated laboratory glass, e.g., beakers and flasks, to Surplus Stores. See the Disposal of Surplus website.

Disposal Procedures

Noncontaminated Laboratory Glass Waste (Not For Surplus)

Noncontaminated laboratory glass waste that is not surplused is to be placed in appropriate containers and disposed of as follows. (See Biological Contamination for disposal of glass which is contaminated by radiation, acutely hazardous chemicals, or biologically hazardous material.)

Weight Limit for Disposal

The total weight of a glass disposal box ready for removal by custodians may not exceed 40 pounds. This limit includes both the weight of the glass and the weight of the container.

Container Requirements

All boxes containing glass waste must be designed and maintained so they can be handled easily and safely by laboratory, custodial, and solid waste collection personnel. There must be no failure of the container’s integrity during transport which could expose laboratory or service personnel to cutting or puncture hazards.

Custodial or solid waste disposal employees are not required to handle any glass waste container which could rupture during handling.

Allowable Containers

The following two glass waste containers are available for purchase from University Stores:

  • A ten-gallon plastic disposal container with a plastic liner — University Stores (US) item #54190.

    Custodial or solid waste disposal employees are to remove and dispose of ten-gallon plastic disposal containers that are prepared as described in this section.

  • A cardboard disposal container with plastic liner — US #49787.Custodial or solid waste disposal employees are not to remove and dispose of cardboard glass waste disposal containers. Laboratories electing to use the cardboard disposal containers are responsible for safely disposing of the containers in the building dumpster.

For refill liners, request US item #51670.

Obtaining Containers

The department or laboratory generating glass wastes is responsible for purchasing or otherwise obtaining disposal containers.

Preparation and Pickup

To prepare the glass waste for pickup, the department or laboratory performs the following steps:

  1. Labels the containers as “Glass Waste.”
  2. Prints the building and room number on the outside of the container.
  3. Places the plastic liner bag inside the container.
  4. Closes the liner bag with a twist tie after the liner is filled, and shuts the container lid.
  5. Notifies the custodian that the container is ready for disposal.

The custodian removes the disposal containers and dumps the filled plastic liners into the building dumpster. The custodian does not directly handle the liners. The custodian returns the disposal containers to the indicated building and room.

After pickup, the department or laboratory places a new plastic liner inside the container.

Disposal by Laboratory Employees

If glass waste is disposed of by laboratory employees, a disposal procedure is to be placed in the Laboratory Safety Manual. The procedure must include:

  • A description of the labeling placed on disposal containers. At minimum, a container label indicates that the box contains noncontaminated waste glass and shows building and room number.
  • A description of how the glass waste is to be packed in order to prevent injury to laboratory workers who transport waste to the building dumpster.
  • A description of how the container is closed or secured (i.e., taped shut), so that loose glass shards do not injure workers.
  • A description of the personal protective equipment and specific safety practices (e.g., back injury prevention training for lifting heavy objects) used by laboratory employees who transport the glass waste.
  • A description of the actions laboratory employees take if injury occurs.

Contaminated Laboratory Glass

Process contaminated laboratory glass waste in the same manner as other contaminated materials. Containers of contaminated glass are collected by trained employees from the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) or Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S), as appropriate.

Chemical Contamination
Broken Laboratory Glass

Refer to the chemical spill procedures in SPPM 5.62 regarding processing broken chemically-contaminated laboratory glass.

Acutely Hazardous Chemicals

Unbroken glass contaminated with acutely hazardous chemicals, as designated by the Washington Department of Ecology, must be triple rinsed. The rinsate must be collected and managed as a hazardous chemical waste (see SPPM 5.66) the unbroken glass may then be disposed of as noncontaminated glass waste.

For information regarding identifying acutely hazardous chemicals, see the EH&S Hazardous Materials Waste Identification Guide.

Other Chemicals

Unbroken glass contaminated with chemicals not designated as acutely hazardous waste may be emptied as much as is reasonably possible and disposed of as noncontaminated glass waste.


Refer questions regarding chemically contaminated glass to EH&S; telephone 509-335-3041.

Biological Contamination

Departments may sterilize biologically contaminated glass waste by autoclave or other approved methods, as described in the laboratory’s biosafety manual, and then dispose of as noncontaminated glass waste. See SPPM 4.24 for more about the management options for disposal of biohazards.

Note: Syringes and needles are managed according to the requirements of a separate policy and procedure. Refer to SPPM 4.25 for a list of collection locations for sharps containers.


Refer questions regarding biologically contaminated glass to the Office of Research Assurances; telephone 509-335-9553.

Radiation Contamination

Place glass contaminated by radioactive materials in a plastic-lined cardboard box which is labeled for radiation hazards (see also SPPM 9.60).


Refer questions regarding radiation contaminated glass to the RSO; telephone 509-335-8016.

Revisions:  Sept. 2016 (Rev. 108); May 1993 – new policy (Rev. 11).