Biological waste


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The handling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) or natural pathogens generates waste, according to the laws, should be inactivated and disposed such that they can not cause harm to living organisms or the environment.

Further information: 

  1. Arbre de decisions per a residus biològics 
  2. Gestió de residus biològics de laboratori 
  3. Decontamination and waste management (WHO 2020)
  4. Safe management of wastes from healthcare activities (2nd ed. WHO 2015)
  5. Compendium of technologies for treatment/destruction of healthcare waste (UNEP 2012)

Non-biohazardous biological wastes are considered to be those that are or contain group 1 BA and therefore have very little or no capacity to cause an infection, allergy or toxicity in humans, animals or plants, and present no risk to the environment.

Biohazardous biological wastes are considered to be those that are or contain risk group 2 BA or above, and therefore have the capacity to cause an infection, allergy or toxicity in humans, animals or plants, or present a risk to the environment. They also include genetically modified organisms (GMOs) of any risk group.

Further information.

Inactivation is a strategy for minimising waste, which reduces risk, improves safety and protects the environment. Biological wastes can be inactivated by physical or chemical methods.





- Moist heat (autoclave)

- Solid and liquid cultures

- Diagnosis samples

- Thermoresistant material

- Plants

- Dry heat (incineration)

- Experimental animals

- Pathology samples

- Human remains

- Samples with prions (SRM)

- HEPA filters


- Chlorine and derivatives

- Liquid cultures in small quantities

- Contaminated surfaces and equipment

- GMO seeds

- Biotoxins

- Alkalis (>pH11)

- Liquid effluents

- Alkaline hydrolysis

- Animal corpses


To know which disposal procedure to apply to a particular biological waste the following questions must be answered.

— Is it biohazardous?
— Is it liquid or solid?
— Does it have a large volume and high concentration?
— Does it have a low, moderate or high biological risk?
— Is it specifically regulated?
— What (chemical or physical) treatment has it received?
— Does this treatment guarantee its harmlessness?

Non-biohazardous biological wastes are disposed of as normal waste except those in the category of special waste (e.g. human corpses and remains, uninfected experimental or domestic animal corpses and remains, with chemical and/or radioactive contamination, etc.).

At the UAB, whenever possible, biohazardous wastes, before being disposed of as normal waste (reclassification), must be inactivated (including group I, non-GMO agents, especially if their volume and concentration are high) and processed to avoid causing unnecessary alarm (strong, closed, non-transparent container and non-biohazardous waste label). Waste that cannot be inactivated securely (e.g. sharps, carcasses, SRM, infected organs and tissues, etc.) or which comes from BSL-3 facilities must be treated by an outside contractor licensed by the competent authorities.