Friday, November 21, 2008

EPA Proposes Adding Pharmaceutical Waste to Universal Waste Rule

The EPA is proposing to add hazardous pharmaceutical wastes to the Universal Waste Rule in order to provide a system for disposing hazardous pharmaceutical wastes that is protective of public health and the environment. The proposed addition will make it easier for generators to collect and properly dispose of these items as hazardous wastes, resulting in a simpler and more streamlined waste management system.

This proposed rule applies to:

* pharmacies,
* hospitals,
* physicians’ offices,
* dentists’ offices,
* outpatient care centers,
* ambulatory health care services,
* residential care facilities,
* veterinary clinics, and
* other facilities that generate hazardous pharmaceutical wastes.

The rule encourages generators to dispose of non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste as universal waste, thereby removing this unregulated waste from wastewater treatment plants and municipal solid waste landfills. The addition of hazardous pharmaceutical waste to the Universal Waste Rule will facilitate the collection of personal medications from the public at various facilities so that they can be more properly managed.

Currently the federal Universal Waste Rule includes batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and lamps. Universal wastes are typically generated in a wide variety of settings including industrial settings and households, by many sectors of society, and may be present in significant volumes in non-hazardous waste management systems.