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NOTE: Information on this page may be outdated and inconsistent with the new rules.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.
Nicotine is on the discarded chemical list. While nicotine products can be purchased over-the-counter for home use, the guidance below is intended for healthcare facility or hospital settings.
Nicotine products include:
When a product with nicotine, or a nicotine salt, as the sole active ingredient is discarded or not used for its intended purpose, it is a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste with a listed waste code of P075.
Pharmaceutical products that contain nicotine, or nicotine salts, and another active ingredient are not P075 RCRA listed waste, but would likely be state-only dangerous waste for toxicity.
It is a violation of the dangerous waste rules to dispose of these pharmaceuticals in the sewer, in a sharps container, or in a regulated medical waste container destined for the landfill.
Designating nicotine waste
Nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges
- If the patch, gum, or lozenge is opened and unused, the item and its wrapper are a P075 listed waste.
- If the item has been used for its intended purpose, it is no longer a P075 RCRA listed hazardous waste. However, it still may be dangerous waste for toxicity under our state-only criteria.
- The product wrapper would not carry the P075 assuming that the nicotine patch is being administered and therefore still a product when removed from the wrapper. No listing would apply. The packets (container/inner liner) would be a solid waste.
Nicotine inhalers and sprays
- If the inhaler or spray is opened and unused, the entire cartridge is P075 listed waste.
- If the inhaler or spray has been used for its intended purpose, but there is still a residue of nicotine remaining inside the cartridge or bottle, it is still P075 RCRA listed hazardous waste. It may also be dangerous waste for toxicity under our state-only criteria.
Managing nicotine waste
Nicotine products 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.
RCRA hazardous nicotine waste
Manage as a dangerous waste at a RCRA-permitted facility.
This includes non-viable formulations of nicotine and nicotine salts that designate as listed wastes or under the RCRA characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity. This also includes any discarded containers with nicotine residue that have not been triple-rinsed.
- Under the dangerous waste regulations, accumulating more than 2.2 pounds of any P-listed waste, including nicotine, will make you a large quantity generator with additional requirements.
- Under the Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy, the listed waste will not count towards your generator category if it is sent to a RCRA-permitted incinerator as hazardous waste on a Uniform Hazardous waste Manifest.
State-only dangerous waste nicotine
You can assume nicotine formulations that are not RCRA hazardous waste are state-only dangerous waste. To determine the waste is not a state-only dangerous waste, you must know the remaining concentration of the nicotine and other ingredients as well as the acute toxicity information of those ingredients.
Manage as either dangerous waste at a RCRA-permitted facility or as excluded waste at an incinerator meeting the criteria of the Conditional Exclusion.