Department of Ecology News Release - October 1, 2020

New Ecology rule updates dangerous waste regulations

Changes will ensure dangerous wastes are properly and safely managed


Washington has updated regulations preventing dangerous wastes from making their way into the environment. The Department of Ecology yesterday adopted rule changes to Chapter 173-303 WAC that will simplify disposal of pharmaceutical and airbag wastes and clarify rules about use of electronic Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifests. These changes will affect dangerous waste management facilities, health care facilities, and other dangerous waste generators beginning Oct. 31.

Some of the changes are required by laws requiring Ecology practices to be consistent with those of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, while other rule changes will help clarify requirements, simplify compliance, and ensure that dangerous wastes are properly and safely managed.

Ecology’s rule changes will primarily impact the health care industry and the way it manages pharmaceutical waste. Hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies will be able to designate and dispose of unused or unwanted drugs more easily by having a uniform set of rules for managing pharmaceutical wastes. Additionally, health care facilities, including small quantity generators, will no longer be allowed to dispose of dangerous waste pharmaceuticals into a sewer system.

Other rule changes include:

  • Providing better direction to vehicle repair shops on proper disposal of airbags removed from vehicles. This rule reiterates that removed airbags must be properly managed and disposed of to avoid explosions and injuries.
  • Reducing regulation of nicotine-containing over-the-counter smoking cessation products that are being discarded. These discarded products no longer must be managed as a listed acute hazardous waste.
  • Providing instuctions for facilities receiving dangerous waste on electronic Hazardous Waste Manifests, including rules about Environmental Protection Agency’s e-manifest user fee system.
  • Updating biological test methods for designating dangerous wastes to remove unnecessary procedures and improve efficiency for testing laboratories.
  • Other technical clarifications and corrections.

For more information about the rule change and a list of frequently asked questions, visit Ecology’s website.

Contact information

Erich R. Ebel
Communications Manager
Twitter: ecologywa