The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing a proposal to create separate standards for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. The proposal is a continuation of one created in December of 2008 to add hazardous waste pharmaceuticals to the Universal Waste Program. This rule was never finalized. The EPA states that this is because the “proposal revealed numerous concerns over the lack of notification requirements for those facilities that generate, handle or transport “universal waste” pharmaceuticals as well as for the lack of tracking requirements for the shipment of these wastes”.
Instead of revising the rule, the EPA decided to develop a new rule specifically for the management and disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are generated by healthcare related facilities. These facilities would include companies like hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, veterinary facilities, university health clinics, nursing homes, distributors, retailers and any other establishment, that may have excess, expired or damaged pharmaceutical products that need to be disposed.
Currently, hazardous pharmaceutical wastes are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in the same way as all other hazardous waste materials. Pharmaceuticals may be found on the P list or U list in the hazardous waste listings of RCRA. If so, the facility must follow all rules associated with that list for those products. However, a substance may still be considered a hazardous waste if it is not on these lists if it exhibits a characteristic (ignitibility, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity).
The EPA anticipates that the proposed rule will be available for public comment in August of 2013.
Until then, the EPA has resources available to help aid facilities in complying with current regulations. To view this information, click here.