April 08, 2024

Med Spa Waste Management: How to Safely Dispose of Sharps and Pharmaceuticals

The growth of the medical spa industry is on the rise and is expected to reach $25.9 billion by 2026. Capitalize on this lucrative growth and help ensure your spa’s success by putting safety first. This means staying up-to-date with the latest guidelines and best practices, including proper medical waste disposal and management.

What are Med Spas?

Medical spas, commonly known as med spas, provide a variety of doctor-supervised, non-surgical aesthetic procedures, such as Botox, liposuction, chemical peels, and laser hair removal. These specialized treatments, typically found at a dermatology office or plastic surgery clinic, can produce medical waste, including sharps waste like needles, syringes, and scalpels and pharmaceutical waste like dermal fillers, botulinum toxins, and anesthetics.

How to Dispose of Sharps Waste From Med Spas

While some states have no current regulations regarding the proper disposal of sharps generated in med spas, safety first is always the best policy. Sharps injuries are a traumatic experience and could be life-altering. They not only pose a threat to the health and safety of healthcare workers but to a business’s bottom line. The costs of investigation and treatment for sharps injuries can add up to an estimated $3,000 per victim annually and lead to more than $1 billion in unnecessary expenses for the industry.

To safeguard your staff, business, and community, sharps should be disposed of in specially designed containers. All contaminated sharps should be placed in a sharps waste container that adheres to the requirements outlined in OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(A).

Med spas can use a trusted third-party service to collect, treat, and dispose of their sharps waste. Stericycle offers a wide variety of container sizes and service models, Stericycle can provide a waste management program specific to your spa’s needs and waste volumes.

Another option for managing sharps waste is the SafeDrop™ Sharps Mail Back Program, which provides a cost-effective, convenient mail-back disposal option for med spas. The all-in-one sharps management kit includes:

  • Sharps container and plastic liner
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Pre-addressed, postage-paid return shipping labels
  • Barcoded return shipping container
  • Prepaid sharps treatment and disposal
  • Serialized tracking documents (for tracking delivery to the treatment facility)

How to Dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste From Med Spas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the disposal of hazardous waste including hazardous waste pharmaceuticals through the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

If disposed of incorrectly, pharmaceutical waste can harm the environment. Pharmaceutical waste includes unused or expired medications that may be left over in vials, bottles, and sharps. To be compliant with the EPA and state environmental regulations, med spas should:

  • Characterize or identify waste as outlined in RCRA. Between five and 10 percent of all pharmaceutical waste is considered “hazardous waste” by the EPA.
  • Create a detailed waste management plan that aligns with applicable EPA and state environmental rules.

In 2019, the EPA finalized a new rule, often referred to as subpart P, that outlines healthcare-specific requirements for managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, including: 

  • Healthcare facilities can no longer flush hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down drains.
  • Hazardous waste pharmaceuticals will no longer count toward an organization’s hazardous waste generator status.
  • Containers must be in good condition with clear labeling that states “Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals.”
  • Train all employees on proper waste segregation, handling, and disposal procedures.
  • Employees who prepare hazardous materials for transport must complete Department of Transportation hazardous materials training and be re-trained at least every three years.

Is the Disposal of Sharps and Pharmaceutical Waste Generated at Med Spas Regulated?

Be sure to check your state’s guidelines for applicable rules and regulations. However, even if you work in a state that does not regulate med spa waste, collecting and managing sharps and pharmaceutical waste properly will help keep your employees and your clients safe.

Are Med Spas Required to Follow OSHA Standards?

Some OSHA standards which typically apply to med spas include bloodborne pathogens and hazard communication.

Stericycle’s Steri-Safe OSHA Compliance Solutions provides hands-on guidance and support to help you navigate OSHA compliance and keep your employees safe.

Learn more about how Stericycle can help support your med spa’s medical waste management needs.

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