After working in the environmental and health care industries and now owning your own facility, you know that hazardous waste, including certain pharmaceuticals and other materials, is a part of the business. For decades, the Environmental Protection Agency had a set of rules and regulations for the proper handling and disposal of certain materials.
In 2019, the EPA issued a new regulation — the Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals — that will more than likely require you to make changes in order to remain in compliance. In order to do so, you will need to know the highlights of the new regulation.
What you need to know
While you may need a more detailed explanation of the new regulation, it would help to gain an understanding of the key points you need to know to get you started, such as the following:
- Over-the-counter nicotine therapies, such as the patch and gum, are no longer hazardous waste.
- E-cigarettes continue to fall under hazardous waste, so you must dispose of them in accordance with the new regulation.
- You cannot dispose of pharmaceuticals considered hazardous waste down any drain that would lead to the sewer system, such as flushing them down the toilet or rinsing them in a sink.
- The new regulation clears up the requirements of the EPA, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration regarding the management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals.
- A pharmaceutical take-back program remains part of the household hazardous waste exemption.
- The new rule provides clarity regarding the disposal of unused drugs or “reverse distribution” as it’s called in the industry.
The EPA understands that it will take some time for all states to come into compliance with the new rule, so it may not go into effect here in Georgia until 2021 or 2022. However, that does not necessarily mean that you can wait until then to gain a full understanding of the new regulation, know how it applies to your business and identify what changes you may need to make in order to comply with it.
It would be wise to consult with an environmental law attorney to make sure you can meet those goals. Otherwise, any misunderstanding of the new regulation could result in hefty fines and other costs in order to bring the facility into compliance under the watchful eye of the EPA and/or state authorities.