Injectable liquid waste

Find management options for injectable liquid waste.

Injectable pharmaceuticals come in a variety of forms and containers. Some formulations come as a liquid direct from the manufacturer while others are mixed into solutions on site. Injectable pharmaceuticals may be contained in:

  • Vials and ampoules
  • Syringes
  • IV bags

Designating injectable liquid waste

Liquids with chemotherapy agents

  • When chemotherapy agents have been mixed with other liquids the wastes are considered either bulk or trace chemotherapy waste.
  • Chemotherapy wastes can designate as Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste or state-only dangerous waste.

Liquids with pharmaceuticals or nutrients

  • You must designate all wastes containing pharmaceuticals or nutrients to determine if they are RCRA hazardous or state-only dangerous waste. Concentrations and formulations differ, and so will their designation. Solutions may have other drugs added to them for delivery, such as lactated ringers or total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

Liquids without pharmaceuticals or nutrients

The following solutions are eligible for sewer disposal with authorization from your local sewer authority or Ecology’s Water Quality Program.

  • Sterile water
  • Saline solution, no nutrients or vitamins added
  • Dextrose solution, no additional nutrients or vitamins added

See Pharmaceutical Waste Designation Flowchart.

Managing injectable liquid waste

Viable pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals that are eligible for credit from a manufacturer, wholesaler, or reverse distributor are viable pharmaceuticals and not considered waste. Viable pharmaceuticals include unused and/or unopened pharmaceuticals that receive a credit. Items not receiving a credit must be managed as waste.

If the injectable liquid waste is a controlled substance, see controlled substance waste for information about designation and management.

RCRA hazardous waste

Includes waste formulations that designate as a discarded chemical product (listed waste) or under the federal characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.

If not a controlled substance, manage as dangerous waste at a RCRA-permitted facility.

If the liquid pharmaceutical would be a P-listed waste if disposed, the container is also considered a P-listed waste, unless it has been triple rinsed. (See also: empty pharmaceutical containers)

  • For example, if arsenic trioxide is administered in an IV bag as the sole active ingredient, the IV bag and all associated tubing would be considered a P012 RCRA hazardous listed waste.

State-only dangerous waste

You can assume any liquid pharmaceutical wastes that are not RCRA hazardous waste are state-only dangerous waste. They can be managed at an incinerator that meets the criteria of the Conditional Exclusion or as dangerous waste at a RCRA-permitted facility. See Pharmaceutical Waste Management Flowchart.

Do not dispose of these liquids down the drain or into soiled linens destined for the laundry

Authorization by your local sewer authority is required for disposal of any process waste to sanitary sewer. Sewer agencies may NOT accept dangerous wastes. The sewer authority will also consider how the compounds will affect their treatment system and the microorganisms.