Pharmaceutical rules, policy, & guides

Most pharmaceutical waste designates as dangerous waste.


The Dangerous Waste Regulations, Chapter 173-303 WAC provide rules for managing, accumulating, and disposing of dangerous waste. The regulations also includes requirements for:

Learn more about dangerous waste and rules you must follow.

Conditional exclusion for pharmaceutical waste

Waste pharmaceuticals considered dangerous waste based on Washington’s criteria for toxicity and persistence can be excluded from the rest of the rules under the Conditional Exclusion in WAC 173-303-071(3)(nn).

However, the state cannot change federal law. Pharmaceuticals that designate as Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste must be disposed of as dangerous waste.

Refer to our publication, Focus on Pharmaceutical Waste for more details.

Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy

We originally developed the Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy to address questions and needs identified by the healthcare industry. It provides an option to the existing rules for managing pharmaceutical waste. We won't enforce portions of the dangerous waste rules if you meet the conditions of this policy. 

Pharmaceutical waste profiles

The Interim Policy requires that all healthcare facilities create a pharmaceutical waste profile. The Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy Fact Sheet – Profiling and Notification helps facilities understand and complete this process.

Additional Guidance 

The Guide for Dangerous Pharmaceutical Waste Generators in Washington State provides a summary of the requirements for managing pharmaceutical waste under the:

  • Washington Dangerous Waste Regulations
  • Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy
  • ​Conditional Exclusion for state-only pharmaceutical waste

The guide does not include all applicable dangerous waste requirements. Always refer to the regulations or the policy for more detail.