The proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste is crucial for any medical facility, as it ensures, among other things, that you’ve complied with local, state, and federal pharmaceutical waste regulations. The pharma waste collection, treatment, and disposal provider you work with should have extensive experience providing pharmaceutical waste services.
Pharmaceuticals are invaluable for saving lives, but they must be disposed of correctly when you discard them. Improper disposal of pharma waste can harm people, animals, and other ecosystems. Even chemicals that aren’t in and of themselves hazardous can, over time, damage the environment when they mix with another substance that is harmful.
There are some medical waste service providers who are not properly licensed to handle pharmaceutical waste, and even worse, there are providers who do not dispose of it correctly via incineration. Waste management companies with comprehensive knowledge and expertise know how to handle the proper disposal of pharma waste, safely transporting and disposing of various materials according to regulatory requirements. Here’s how to determine if your provider is properly disposing of pharma waste.
Proper Disposal of Pharmaceutical Waste in Alabama and Tennessee
Is all pharmaceutical waste the same? Does your facility need to handle chemotherapy waste differently than it does sample medications and partially filled syringes?
While the EPA issues federal management standards for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, each state also has requirements and regulations pharma waste generators must adhere to.
- The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) is the state’s environmental protection agency that oversees the handling of medical waste. Hazardous pharmaceutical waste management is governed by Tennessee Rule 0400-12-01-.02.
- The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has its own guidelines for medical waste management, including non-hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical residue, and non-creditable hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. The agency also provides a handy Alabama hazardous waste pharmaceuticals fact sheet.
Both states also require pharmaceutical waste disposal providers to follow the federal government’s hazardous waste manifest system, which tracks pharma waste from the time it leaves your facility until it reaches the off-site waste management facility where it’s required by law to be incinerated. Once the pharma waste is disposed of properly, you should be given a certificate of destruction.
Is Your Waste Provider Qualified to Dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste?
Did you know your waste provider must have a proper, specific permit for transporting pharmaceutical waste? And that they should provide you with both a manifest that shows precisely where your pharmaceutical waste was taken and a certificate of destruction?
Unfortunately, there are medical waste service providers who are not licensed to transport and do not properly dispose of pharma waste, yet offer the service anyway. And since they know a waste generator, i.e., your facility, is responsible from “cradle-to-grave” for regulated waste streams, they don’t worry about whether they’re meeting regulatory conditions. After all, they aren’t likely to be the ones who are audited or fined for any missteps.
When choosing a pharma waste disposal company, the service provider you select should:
- Be licensed to handle pharmaceutical waste.
- Monitor all state and federal regulations concerning medical waste processing, containment, labeling, storage, transportation, treatment, and disposal.
- Offer staff compliance training in OSHA, HIPAA, and DOT compliance, including how to properly segregate waste.
- Properly transport and dispose of your facility’s pharmaceutical waste according to all state and federal compliance standards.
Whether you manage a clinic, medical research lab, veterinary hospital, nursing home, or other facility that produces pharmaceutical waste, it’s your responsibility to be familiar with and follow applicable federal and state laws.
TriHaz is a licensed contractor for the disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous pharma waste. Because we know it’s important for our customers to also be up-to-date and knowledgeable about their role in pharma waste disposal, we’ve put together this free reference guide that’s designed to help your staff quickly sort pharmaceutical waste into the proper containers and safely store it for pickup and disposal. You can rely on us to help you stay safe and compliant.