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My Watershed

  Specific waste: Empty containers

Containers that held pharmaceutical products may be dangerous waste if they are not emptied properly or if they held specific constituents. 

Examples of pharmaceutical containers include:

  • Intravenous (IV) bags and tubing
  • Syringes
  • Ampoules
  • Vials and bottles

A container is “empty” and not a dangerous waste when it meets the following three criteria:

  1. Emptied using all normal means, and
  2. Contains less than 3% of container capacity, and
  3. Did not contain a pharmaceutical designating as P-listed, acutely hazardous waste (AHW - Chapter 173-303-9903 WAC), or as a WT01, State-only extremely hazardous waste (EHW) for toxicity, (Chapter 173-303-100 WAC), or
    Contained a P-listed sole active ingredient or a WT01 EHW waste and has been triple-rinsed.

Normal means of emptying pharmaceutical containers include fully depressing a syringe, fully administering an IV bag, and withdrawing all the contents of a vial with a syringe.  An “empty” container may be considered solid waste. 

Management of non-dangerous waste empty containers:

A container is dangerous waste when it:

Management of dangerous waste containers:

  • Manage as a pharmaceutical dangerous waste.
  • Manage dangerous waste syringes with needle attached as a dual waste. 
  • See also: Specific Wastes: Dual Wastes.

An empty container is dual waste when it:

  • Contained a pharmaceutical whose sole active ingredient is listed under Chapter 173-303-9903 WAC for P-listed RCRA wastes or is a WT01extremely hazardous state-only dangerous waste identified in Chapter 173-303-100 WAC and has been contaminated with body fluids.
  • Contained a chemotherapy agent or other sole active pharmaceutical that is assumed to be either a P-listed RCRA waste or a WT01 state-only dangerous waste and has been contaminated with body fluids.

Management of dual waste empty containers:


Refer to your local health department for regulations on sharps, biomedical waste and for other best management practice guidelines for these materials.

Note: The Spokane Waste to Energy Facility does not accept sharps.