5 Things You Need to Know About Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

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The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was written by legislators — and it shows. While the act outlines endless “don’ts,” it can be difficult to determine how you should handle pharmaceutical waste. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how to dispose of pharmaceutical waste.

1. All Pharmaceutical Waste Isn’t Created Equal

Hazardous (RCRA), non-hazardous, trace chemotherapy and controlled substances — it all has to be handled separately and properly according to its classification. It’s also subject to the rules of a number of regulatory agencies. Some (but not all) pharmaceutical waste must be treated as hazardous waste and handled accordingly.

2. Biohazardous Waste and Pharmaceutical Waste Must Be Treated Differently

Some assume that treating pharmaceutical waste as biohazardous waste is the appropriate thing to do, but that’s not the case. Biohazardous waste is sterilized to remove the infectious potential and then delivered to a landfill for final disposal. When you dispose of pharmaceutical waste with biohazardous waste, it will ultimately end up in a landfill and seep into our water supply (or end up in surface water). Because of this, pharma waste needs to be segregated properly and treated by incineration. This breaks down the complex chemicals to render them safe.

3. Fines Aren’t the Only Thing to Worry About

Regulatory angencies often publicize waste disposal violators, so be sure to consider how negative headlines could harm your business when deciding how to dispose of pharmaceutical waste.

4. Chemotherapy Waste Must Be Kept Separate and Treated Appropriately

Chemotherapy waste must be segregated and disposed of separately from biohazardous waste and pharmaceutical waste. Miscategorizing it is not only against Arizona regulations, but ADEQ requires chemotherapy waste to be incinerated or disposed of at either an approved solid waste or hazardous waste disposal facility.

5. Disposal of Controlled Substances Must Meet the Stringent Requirements of the DEA

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency requires that all expired and/or unused controlled substances be returned to the manufacturer or destroyed at a DEA/EPA-licensed incinerator. Both processes require using a DEA-licensed reverse distributor to transport the pharmaceuticals and file the required paperwork.

Save Yourself from Regulatory Headaches

Proper pharmaceutical waste disposal is complex, and there’s a ton of bad information out there. Working with an experienced pharmaceutical waste disposal company like US Bio-Clean can keep your business in compliance with federal and state regulations, and out of hot water with the ADEQ, EPA, USDOT and the DEA.

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