Department of Ecology News Release - December 19, 2016

Stericycle settles waste handling fine
Settlement will fund pharmaceutical waste training

OLYMPIA – Stericycle, a medical waste handling company, will provide $57,600 to support education about pharmaceutical waste management and pay $14,400 in an agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology to settle a penalty from 2015.

The education portion of the settlement will fund a series of videos showing pharmacies, hospitals, veterinarians, dentists and doctors’ offices the right way to handle and dispose of waste pharmaceuticals. The parties also agreed to stop any appeals or litigation over the fine.

Ecology originally fined Stericycle $72,000 after inspectors found spills of liquid waste and hazardous pharmaceutical waste mixed with non-hazardous biomedical waste at the company’s Morton facility. Since that time, Stericycle has taken measures to address these issues at the Morton facility. Additionally, the company is working with healthcare facilities, where the wastes are generated, to ensure proper segregation.   

“Our goal is always to see hazardous waste handled properly so there is no risk to people or the environment,” said Darin Rice, manager of Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program. “We’re very encouraged by the steps Stericycle has taken to improve its practices, and this agreement will help medical facilities understand what they need to do when dealing with this waste.”

Many pharmaceuticals can be hazardous to people or the environment if they are thrown away or flushed down the drain, so they require special management practices. State and federal law classifies these pharmaceuticals as hazardous waste.

“We’re pleased to resolve this issue in a way that will improve pharmaceutical waste handling throughout Washington,” said Jennifer Koenig, Stericycle’s vice president of corporate communication. “We are committed to managing hazardous waste in a manner that protects the environment and the communities we serve.”  

Contact:

Andrew Wineke, communications, 360-407-6149, @ecologyWA