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My Watershed

Rules, Policy, and Guides

Rulemaking Alert!

Ecology plans to amend specific sections of the dangerous waste regulations to incorporate new federal hazardous waste rules. These changes will impact pharmaceutical waste.

Adopting new pharmaceutical waste rules will help healthcare facilities and waste management vendors better understand the regulations regarding pharmaceutical waste, manage this waste stream properly, and reduce their regulatory burden.

The Dangerous Waste Regulations, Chapter 173-303 Washington Administrative Code (WAC) provides the rules for managing, accumulating, and disposing of dangerous waste, which includes pharmaceutical waste. Most pharmaceutical waste designates as dangerous waste. The rule also includes requirements on container management, labeling, secondary containment, recordkeeping, training, and contingency plans. Ecology’s Manage Dangerous Waste web pages provide guidance on specific aspects of these requirements.

Conditional Exclusion for state-only pharmaceutical waste

The Conditional Exclusion allows waste pharmaceuticals that are dangerous waste only because of Washington’s criteria for toxicity and persistence, to be excluded from the rest of the rules. The text of the exclusion is in the dangerous waste rules, WAC 173-303-071(3)(nn). However, the state cannot change federal law, so pharmaceuticals that designate as hazardous waste under the criteria set in the federal law, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), must still be disposed of as dangerous waste. For details, refer to Ecology's publication, Focus on Pharmaceutical Waste.

Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy

This policy, originally developed to address questions and needs identified by the healthcare industry was updated in October 2016. It provides an option to the existing rules for managing pharmaceutical waste. Within its enforcement discretion, Ecology will refrain from enforcing portions of the dangerous waste rules at facilities meeting the conditions of this policy. Pharmaceutical waste not managed according to this policy is subject to full regulation.

Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy Fact Sheet - Profiling and Notification

The Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy requires facilities to conduct an initial pharmaceutical waste profile. This Ecology publication will assist facilities with the profiling process.

Guide for Dangerous Pharmaceutical Waste Generators in Washington State

A summary of requirements for managing pharmaceutical waste under the:

The guide does not include all applicable dangerous waste requirements. Always refer to the regulations or the policy for more detail.