The Regulations


Medical waste is handled according to the Medical Waste Management Act of California, California Health and Safety Code Sections 117600 - 118360, revised January 2017.
UC Santa Barbara has a Medical Waste Management Plan that conforms to federal and state regulations and University policies.The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) inspects UC Santa Barbara's medical waste program each spring.

Medical waste includes waste that is biohazardous or infectious to people. Biohazardous materials include infectious agents, samples or specimens known or suspected to be infectious, and human or primate primary cells, tissues or body fluids.
Medical waste includes biohazardous, sharps, pathology, and trace chemotherapy and pharmaceutical waste that is not regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976. 

Well characterized cells transduced with replication incompetent, infectious viral vectors are considered medical waste.
Such cells may be derogated as non-medical waste after two (2) passages and transfer to a new tissue culture flask. 

Medical versus Non-Medical Waste Practices



Bag Color


red biohazard bag


White Clear Bio hazard bag


Examples of Solid Waste

Primary human blood, serum, tissues

Cultures of pathogenic bacteria, e.g., Salmonella app.

Replication deficient viral vectors


Recombinant E. coli K12 used to subclone human proteins.

Chicken red blood cells

Well-characterized human cell lines that are negative for the most common bloodborne pathogens.

Recombinant tunicates

Recombinant fruit files

Recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae


Collection Container Requirements


Rigid, lidded, lined with a red autoclave bag, labeled with the biohazard symbol, and surface decontaminated once a week.

The color of the secondary container is not specified in the regulations. The biohazardous waste container doesn't need to be lined if not in use, however the container is still required to be lidded.

bio collection container



Bench Top Collection Container Requirements


bench top containers


None; wire racks okay
Storage Container Requirements


bio storage container


Storage Limit


No longer than 7days at room temperature


Requirements for Transportation to Autoclave


Dolly or cart, in a lidded, labeled secondary container

biohazard container cart


Labeling Requirements for Secondary Containers


Biohazard label visible from all sides and on the lid


Treatment Specifications


Documented run at a minimum temperature of 121℃, for at least 30 minutes in an autoclave permitted with CDPH;

Alternatively, contract with a licensed medical waste hauler for treatment and disposal.


Best practice: 121℃ for 30 minutes.

Any Autoclave

Signage for Solid Waste Accumulation Area


biohazard sign


Liquid Waste Treatment


Chemically deactivated with Autoclaved without bleach


Liquid Waste Retention Limit


7 days at room temperature


Liquid Waste Disposal Procedures


Deactivate and flush down the sink with an excess of water




biohazard sharps container


Cover and label as non-biohazardous sharps 

Dispose of Autoclaved Solid Waste in the Lab Waste Lidded Toters


marborg hazard container 1


marborg hazard container 2


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Self-Inspection Checklist



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Waste Treatment


  • Liquid medical waste may be chemically deactivated with an EPA-registered, tuberculocidal disinfectant and then discharged to the sewer system with an excess of water
  • Solid medical waste is treated in an autoclave registered with CDPH at ≥ 121°C and 15 psi for at least 30 minutes or taken away for treatment by a licensed medical waste hauler. Autoclaved solid waste is disposed of in the red or brown-lidded wheeled lab waste toters. 
  • Biohazardous sharps are autoclaved and picked up by the EH&S Hazardous Waste Program
  • Trace chemotherapeutics and pharmaceuticals are sent out via the EH&S Hazardous Waste Program for incineration


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