What is Pharmaceutical Waste and How Can You Dispose of It?

If you own a business that handles any kind of waste, you have an obligation to handle and dispose of it appropriately. If you don’t you could be putting yourself and your employees in harm’s way. 

In fact, you could even find your business being shut down if you don’t have the proper hygiene conditions in place. 

There are a whole host of hazardous waste products that can cause harm to humans, so it’s important to know how to deal with all different types of waste. 

In this article, we’ll explain what pharmaceutical waste is, the problems it can cause and how you should be disposing of it.    

What is Pharmaceutical Waste?

Pharmaceutical waste falls under three main categories:


  • Prescription only drugs
  • Over the counter medicines 
  • Research and development drugs 

A good way to remember what is classified as pharmaceutical waste is any medical drugs that are expired, haven’t been used, contaminated or not needed. Once they have become unusable, it is at this point that they change from medicine to pharmaceutical waste. 

Pharmaceutical waste can also include the containers and storage that medicines come in including glass bottles, vials, flu-absorbers, de-nurturing kits and more.      

How Can I Dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste?

It is important that you dispose of any pharmaceutical waste in a very specific way in order to protect the public, yourself and the environment from harm. Due to the damage it can cause, special care must be taken when disposing of it as it cannot be simply thrown away like some other waste products. 

The first thing you must do when handling any pharmaceutical waste product is make sure you’re protecting yourself. Wear protective clothing such as gloves and an apron to ensure you’re fully safe and protected from any harm.

As well as this, you must ensure that you’re segregating all pharmaceutical waste away from other waste products such as clinical or hazardous waste. 

In order to maintain safe storage prior to disposal, you can get a variety of colour-coded waste bins which come in a whole host of sizes to meet your needs. These bins can store sharps, such as needles and syringes, as well as other medical waste products before they’re incinerated.

When it comes to controlled drugs, the first thing that needs to happen is that they’re denatured before they’re destroyed. This process will remove all of the drug’s properties, making them essentially useless, before they head off for incineration. Once the drugs have been destroyed, you’ll be issued with a certificate giving you confirmation the incineration has taken place.


Here at Envirotec Services, we can take care of all your pharmaceutical waste, ensuring we follow all the relevant hazardous and controlled waste regulations as well as the Environment Protection Act. From cytotoxic and cytostatic waste bins to CODE kits and pharma bins, our team can coordinate regular collections of all kinds of pharmaceutical waste making the entire process quick and easy for your business. To find out more about what we do, contact us today.