Types of Pharmaceutical Waste & How We Dispose of Them

How to Correctly Dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste

It is critical to both human and environmental health that all pharmaceutical waste material is disposed of in a safe and specific manner. The proper way to safely dispose of pharmaceutical waste depends on the type of pharmaceutical waste you are dealing with. Even when hiring a professional waste removal company, understanding the different types of pharmaceutical waste can help you to more efficiently dispose of waste and maintain a safe environment for all.

Solid vs. Liquid Pharmaceutical Waste

The main distinction which dictates how one should dispose of waste is whether the waste is solid or liquid.

Solid pharmaceutical waste includes used items that contain pharmaceutical residue. This includes syringes, scalpels, and other used sharps, used or contaminated items such as gloves, masks, bandages, and IV tubing, empty containers such as pill bottles, and used equipment such as inhalers. Solid pharmaceutical waste also includes drugs containing both hazardous or non-hazardous chemicals. This type of pharmaceutical waste should be accurately identified, contained, and removed by a professional waste removal company.

Liquid pharmaceutical waste includes any residue which results from chemical processing and contaminated solvents that result from cleaning. This type of pharmaceutical waste should also be identified, labeled, and removed by professionals.

Hazardous vs. Non-Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste

Aside from whether the waste is liquid or solid, whether pharmaceutical waste can be categorized as hazardous or non-hazardous also affects how one should properly dispose of it.

All types of pharmaceutical waste are clearly outlined by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), an Environmental Protection Agency Law which governs how solid and hazardous waste is disposed of. The RCRA defines pharmaceutical waste as hazardous or non-hazardous, according to types of wastes’ ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity.

The majority of pharmaceutical waste is non-hazardous. Non-hazardous refers to the standards enforced by the RCRA, and does not mean that pharmaceutical waste is entirely safe for human or environmental health. All non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste must still be disposed of correctly and safely by a professional waste removal service.

Non-hazardous pharmaceutical wastes are prescription, non-prescription or non-controlled medications. These medications include but are not limited to over-the-counter medications, antibiotics, hormones, and contraceptives.

Hazardous pharmaceutical waste is defined as any waste that can lead to death or severe illness or any waste that endangers human or environmental health. Acute hazardous pharmaceutical waste is hazardous even in small quantities and must be disposed of with even stricter care and in compliance with the EPA’s RCRA disposal regulations.

Refer to the RCRA or contact a professional waste removal company for a comprehensive list of hazardous and non-hazardous pharmaceutical wastes.

Dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste with Vision Environmental

Safety is paramount when working with pharmaceuticals, and the safe and compliant disposal of pharmaceutical waste material should be a top priority. Once you understand which category your pharmaceutical waste falls under, contact a professional waste removal service to correctly dispose of all pharmaceutical waste.

The safest way to dispose of hazardous and non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste is to work with the experts at Vision Environmental. Contact us today for a consultation.