Controlled substances

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New pharmaceutical waste regulations

As of Oct. 31, 2020, the special requirements for the management of dangerous waste pharmaceuticals (WAC 173-303-555) is now in effect. Please refer to our Managing Pharmaceutical Waste page for the most current information.

NOTE: Information on this page may be outdated and inconsistent with the new rules. We are working quickly to update this information. Please check back.

Controlled substances are regulated by the federal government and are subject to strict management protocols in addition to federal hazardous waste and state-only dangerous waste regulations.

Managing controlled substances

Reverse distributor: Both viable and non-viable controlled substances can be sent to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) licensed reverse distributor. You must ensure that:

  • Controlled substances that designate as Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste are sent to an RCRA permitted incinerator.
  • Other controlled substances are incinerated at a facility meeting the requirements of the Conditional Exclusion.

RCRA hazardous waste controlled substances: Manage through an RCRA permitted facility, following the DEA guidelines for witnessed destruction of the product beyond reclamation.

State-only dangerous waste controlled substances: Manage according to DEA regulations; may be destroyed at combustion facilities as specified in the Conditional Exclusion.

Do not put dangerous waste into the sewer

Sewer agencies do NOT accept dangerous wastes. Do not inject these liquids down the drain or into soiled linens destined for the laundry. Authorization is required for any process waste to sanitary sewer. Dangerous waste must be managed according to the regulations. The sewer authority must consider how the compounds will affect their treatment system and the microorganisms.