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College of Medicine lab cleanup theme for June 2021: Paper

Each month, the Biosafety team from Penn State College of Medicine shares tips on lab cleanup around a particular theme. Labs are encouraged to use this information to help keep their space as safe and useful as possible.

The lab cleanup theme for June 2021 is paper.

Goals and scope

The specific items in the June lab cleanup days include all paper products. This encompasses any loose sheets, lab notebooks, journals, glossy magazines, posters, banners, confidential material, etc.

Any lab that stores paper material should be participating in this month’s effort. Labs should be discarding records no longer required for retention per University Policy BS15 Disposal and Purchase of Obsolete, Surplus or Scrap University-Owned Equipment, Supplies and/or Materials and University Policy AD35 University Archives and Records Management.

Labs should dispose of paper material if it is:

  • already scanned or duplicated;
  • part of a journal available online or through Harrell Health Sciences Library;
  • material containing protected health information; and/or
  • material associated with a grant older than 3 years.

Locations and procedures

  • General paper/municipal waste that does not need to be shredded can be places in large generic recycling collections bins or in any institutional recycling bin.
  • Glossy paper can be placed in the recycling containers.
  • Paper containing confidential material, intellectual property or protected health information should be placed in a blue shredding container for proper destruction before disposal.

For details

  • For information on intellectual property, materials transfer or confidential agreements, email Erika Swift in the Center for Medical Innovation at
  • For information on protected health information/HIPAA documents, email Rebecca Hale in the Human Research Protection Program at
  • For information on Environmental Health pickup locations or regarding full recycling containers, call Environmental Health’s main office at 717-531-6359.

Next month’s focus

July 2021 will focus on all items that are glass. Lab should start to organize old glass stocks and decide what is needed and what isn’t. Cabinets of unused flasks? Closets with empty glass gallon jugs? Old-style cardboard sharps containers? The July cleanup can help labs get that space back!

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