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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Questions

Healthcare providers must manage the disposal of unused, expired or waste chemicals and pharmaceuticals. With so many products and formulations on the market today, and with the additional burden of understanding health and safety rules, environmental rules, DEA rules, and other guidelines, trying to determine disposal of pharmaceutical wastes can be confusing.

Pharmaceutical waste management disposal guidelines include:

  1. Return the product to a distribution company or manufacturer through a "take-back" program. The product is not considered a waste until it cannot be redistributed or reused. Review the facility’s group purchasing organization contract for further information. Some of these services are included in the contract.
  2. Create an inventory control program to limit the amount of products that expire before use. Resources spent on the management of expired products are resources lost.
  3. Implement a purchasing policy that includes restrictions and preferable purchasing products. For example, restrict pharmaceuticals that contain mercury preservatives and encourage purchasing products that are poly vinyl chlorine free.
  4. Review the material safety data sheet. Disposal considerations or recommendations are sometimes noted on the sheet.
  5. Contact New Hampshire Hospitals for a Healthy Environment list serve at

Pharmaceutical products that cannot be returned through "take-back" programs must be managed as a "waste." The disposal guidelines on the pharmaceutical wastes were based on research and discussion from various Department of Environmental Services programs, including:

  • Hazardous Waste Compliance
  • Industrial Pre-Treatment
  • Infectious Waste
  • Solid Waste Compliance
  • Air Resources
  • Pollution Prevention Program

Pollution Prevention at Healthcare Facilities
Since 1998, the Department of Environmental Services’ New Hampshire Pollution Prevention Program has promoted pollution prevention opportunities at healthcare facilities. This on-going project involves providing on-site assistance at participating facilities, setting up an infrastructure to promote continuous environmental improvement, and providing outreach and training activities to New Hampshire healthcare facilities.

For more information, contact:

Hazardous Waste Compliance toll free (866) HAZWAST
Infectious/Solid Waste (603) 271-2925
Air Toxics (603) 271-1987
Industrial Pre-Treatment (603) 271-2052

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

copyright 2017. State of New Hampshire