Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it important to dispose of pharmaceutical waste correctly?
Safely disposing of pharmaceutical waste protects homes, communities, and the environment by preventing opioid abuse and water system contamination. To minimize risk, it is critical to identify what regulations govern the specific medications you need to dispose, and then select a disposal solution and vendor that meets those requirements. Stericycle can provide safe and compliant handling and disposal of all kinds of medication: pills, inhalers, liquids, patches and more.
Why is it important to dispose of sharps correctly?
Used needles that are contaminated with bodily fluids s can spread infectious diseases that can cause serious health issues for waste workers and the public, if not disposed of safely. Needles can puncture trashcan liners, corrugated cardboard, and even some plastic containers – sticking people and transmitting disease.
How do you safely dispose of expired medication?
It really depends on who you are. If you’re an average consumer of pharmaceutical medicine you can take your expired or unused medication to a Stericycle kiosk at your local pharmacy, hospital, or police station, or talk to your pharmacist about which options are available to you in your community.
Pharmaceutical waste generated from a commercial business (such as a hospital, doctor’s office or pharmacy) is regulated differently than medication waste generated from a residence or household. Commercially-generated pharmaceutical waste is regulated by EPA and DOT during transportation and disposal. It is critical to partner with a knowledgeable and qualified vendor, like Stericycle, to help you navigate this regulatory landscape. In addition, Stericycle offers specialized disposal solutions for controlled substances that are further regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) due to their addictive potential.
Is it safe to flush my medications?
Until recently, federal guidelines recommended flushing or sewering of unused medications to prevent drug diversion. This practice, however, is now known to cause contamination of waterways that may negatively impact wildlife and public health.
For household medications, the FDA website provides clarity on how to safely dispose of them. The FDA, DEA, and EPA recommend drug take back as the first line approach. If drug take back programs are not available in your community, however, , check the FDA website or view this helpful infographic for instructions on what to do.
For commercially-generated pharmaceutical waste, the EPA does not allow any pharmaceuticals to be flushed or disposed of via sewer systems. Drugs must be disposed of via incineration.
How do you safely dispose of used needles and medical sharps?
Stericycle recommends storing and disposing of sharps materials in FDA compliant leak-proof, puncture-resistant containers, and managing transportation and disposal through a properly permitted vendor. For household-generated needles, visit https://safeneedledisposal.org/ to learn more about how to properly dispose of them in your state.
What do I do if there are no drug take back or sharps disposal programs in my community?
Stericycle provides drug take back and sharps collection and disposal services to governments, pharmacies, non-profits, and businesses, who in turn provide these services to the communities they serve. If your community doesn’t have safe or easily accessible programs, contact your local elected officials, health department, pharmacies, drug coalitions, employers, or other community organizations and ask them to contact Stericycle and get involved in providing safe drug and sharps disposal programs in your area.