Waste management in the microbiology laboratory
The treatment of these wastes is not a cheap task and is becoming an increasingly important problem worldwide. Air pollution has increased and the transport and handling of these wastes poses potentially catastrophic risks, and landfills are filling up at a staggering rate.
Healthcare waste and its by-products are composed of a wide spectrum of materials. It is for this reason that the first important step in waste management is minimizing healthcare waste and proper separation at its source of creation: the medical facility. In doing so, we are ensuring effective treatment and efficient control.
Conventional waste makes up the majority of daily healthcare waste and is considered waste that does not pose a risk to people or the environment (in terms of non-biological, chemical or radioactive material). It is waste that can be treated at the point of treatment and recycling of conventional municipal waste.
Waste disposal in the laboratory
Medical and laboratory waste of various origins is generated in healthcare environments, as a large number of products are handled and operations are carried out that lead to the generation of waste that is often hazardous to health and/or the environment.
Generally, the amount of waste generated in these areas is not a high percentage of the total volume of waste generated. In hospitals or laboratories, waste of all types must be managed: paper and cardboard that is thrown in the blue container, packaging that is deposited in the yellow container, organic waste that is thrown in the container for this type of waste… and specific waste that must be treated in a specific way due to the risk that it may pose, with special attention and taking safety measures.
Hospitals generate all types of waste in their different areas, from bio-sanitary waste to organic waste or generic waste such as paper, cardboard and packaging. Therefore, the first step should be to separate the different types of waste and manage each of them in the proper way, throwing them all in the appropriate containers.
Laboratory waste examples
Regarding the stage of collection and primary storage of waste, 44% of the laboratories use type 1, 32% accumulate waste under type 2 criteria and 20% use another form of accumulation (Figure 3).
There is no uniformity in the frequency of internal transport of biological waste (Figure 4). In most laboratories, waste is transported weekly (24%), daily (20%) and 16% of the laboratories transport it in a variable manner, ranging from daily to monthly.
Classification of laboratory waste containers
Identify the waste produced in the laboratory activity and request the most appropriate container for each type depending on the state (liquid, solid or gel), the speed of its generation and the space available in the laboratory.
Laboratory waste is classified into different categories according to its nature, hazardousness and final destination. Please classify each waste you generate into one of the groups in the following table (Consult SEPA for any doubt or clarification about the classification of waste). Download the corresponding label, filling in the blanks (substance/s contained in the container, applicant’s data). They are in fillable pdf format. For your convenience, the “applicant’s data” fields are autocopied on all labels once they have been written on any of them. Attach them to the container before you start filling it, that way everyone in your group will know what is being deposited in it.
VERY IMPORTANT: the labels include a hazard pictogram that must be printed in color, in accordance with the REACH Regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals), and preferably on four-label self-adhesive paper (If you do not have a color printer, print in black and white and color the border of the hazard pictogram with a red marker pen).