hazardous waste pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical waste can create a serious hazard to human health and the environment if not disposed of safely. Proper disposal is even more important when the pharmaceutical waste is also classified as hazardous waste.

A number of drugs and pharmaceutical formulations meet the definition of hazardous waste and are subject to state and federal transport and disposal regulations. In some cases, the empty containers that the medicines came in must also be managed as hazardous waste. Those containers must be handled, stored, treated, and disposed of according to the RCRA Hazardous Waste Management rules.

Sharps Compliance prepared a white paper that offers guidance for medical offices, pharmacies, and other healthcare facilities. It answers common questions about identification and safe disposal of hazardous pharmaceutical waste, including:

  • Which pharmaceutical wastes are also considered hazardous wastes?
  • What criteria are used to classify U- or P-listed hazardous wastes?
  • When is the container considered “RCRA empty” – and when is it not?
  • Can packaging considered “pharmaceutical hazardous waste” ever be discarded safely as regular solid waste?
  • How should pressurized containers be classified and disposed of?
  • How do I know if my business or institution is considered a “hazardous waste generator”?

Our free white paper titled “Is Your Pharmaceutical Waste Also Hazardous Waste?” offers answers and detailed information to help your facility comply with disposal regulations.  Download it now:

Additional Resources from Sharps Compliance

Identification and regulatory compliant disposal of pharmaceutical hazardous waste can present a tremendous challenge for small to medium-sized waste generators. There are over 300,000 drugs listed in the US Pharmacopeia, and between 6% and 9% would be classified as hazardous waste. At the low end, that means at least 18,000 drugs! In addition, P-listed, acutely toxic pharmaceuticals are regulated more stringently.

Sharps Compliance also offers ultimate-user medication disposal solutions for the disposal of unused or expired medication, including controlled substances (schedules II-V.)  In addition, we can manage pharmaceutical disposal programs for retail pharmacies, healthcare facilities, and reverse distributors. We offer pure destruction services for non-hazardous pharmaceuticals and a mix of pickup and mailback services for RCRA hazardous pharmaceuticals.

Visit our blog archives to learn more about pharmaceutical waste disposal:

Joe Jordan has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Chemistry from Washington and Jefferson College. He is certified in RCRA and DOT as well as 40 Hour HAZWOPER certified. Joe has been in the hazardous waste industry since 1990 and has managed industrial, healthcare, retail, and governmental clients, both large and small.

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