Pharmaceutical Waste Separation: A Refresher

Pharmaceutical waste separation – When it comes to pharmaceuticals, waste generators are responsible for handling and disposing of these drugs properly. 

The safe handling of medical waste is something we take very seriously. At Red Bags, we want our clients to feel confident and safe around their medical waste. Knowing how to handle appropriately, store, separate, and dispose of this potentially infectious waste is critical. There is a safety requirement across the board for health facilities, from management to staff and cleaning crews.

When it comes to pharmaceuticals specifically, there is a responsibility for waste generators to handle and dispose of these drugs properly as they could harm the public and the environment.

This type of waste can come from leftover or expired medications, residue in syringes, or even damaged products.

The first step for safe disposal is knowing the three categories pharmaceutical waste separation fall into Pharma (Non-Haz, Non-DEA),  Pharma (hazardous), and Pharma (DEA). Each of these categories has specific conditions and rules for safe handling and disposal that must be followed closely to remain in compliance. 

Here is a rundown of the rules on pharmaceutical waste separation. 

Pharma (Hazardous)

For any medications classified by the EPA as hazardous chemicals, it is important to use black containers labeled for this waste. Drugs like warfarin, lindane, and mitomycin are included. They must be disposed of by a responsible medical waste hauler to reduce the risk of these chemicals to the public and the environment. 

Some chemotherapy drugs are also toxic to people and the environment. A yellow waste bin that is marked should be used for waste that has less than 3 percent remaining. This will ultimately be incinerated. Any waste with more remaining should be placed in the black labeled bins for hazardous waste handling.

Pharma (DEA)

Any drugs that fall into the Drug Enforcement Agency definitions for a controlled substance should be separated into marked black containers. This includes any opiates and benzodiazepines. Reverse distributors will transport them back to the manufacturer or handle safely destroying them by deactivating the drugs to render the drug to render it useless. 

Pharma (Non-Haz, Non-DEA)

Any pharmaceutical waste that does not fall into the DEA and hazardous categories should still be separated for their dangerous characteristics and handled safely by a certified reverse distributor. Typically these containers are white with blue lids and labeled as Non-hazardous. Keeping these dangerous pharmaceuticals handled properly is essential as exposure overtime in our water supply and soil may still lead to harm. 

Ensure you’re always up to date on the latest happenings in medical waste disposal, and share this data as a refresher with your staff!

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Pharmaceutical Waste Separation

Service Areas: Long Island Medical Waste; New York City Medical Waste; Westchester Medical Waste and more!