Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceutical waste management plays an essential role in sustaining pharmaceutical industries. Several pharmaceutical and medical companies produce unwanted materials that are no longer usable in industrial processes. These unwanted materials, if not disposed of, can eventually turn into hazardous materials.

In various countries, pharmaceutical waste is raising concerns regarding adverse environmental consequences. Pharmacological waste is potentially a threat to human health and other living organisms due to the involvement of harmful chemicals in their composition.

Inappropriate pharmaceutical waste disposal has led to the contamination of drinking water and groundwater. The consequences of neglecting pharmaceutical waste treatment are gradually increasing day-by-day.

To deal with these critical circumstances, it is highly recommendable for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to properly handle their waste in compliance with government policies.

What are the Major Sources of Pharmaceutical Waste?

  • Pharmacological waste generally comes from:
  • Pharmaceutical developers and manufacturers
  • Individual physicians
  • Out-patient wards
  • Delivery rooms
  • Chemical stores
  • Pharmaceutical stores
  • Research laboratories
  • Operation Theaters.

What are the Types of Pharmaceutical Waste?

  • Discarded personal medications
  • Expired Drugs
  • Syringes containing drugs
  • Tubing and vials containing drugs
  • Chemotherapy drug residues
  • Used containers of drugs
  • Containers having hazardous drugs
  • Contaminated absorbents
  • Spill cleanup material.

What Methodology is used to treat Pharmaceutical Waste?

  • Incineration

What is it? It is an effective process used to dispose of pharmaceutical waste by subjecting it to the incinerator. The waste material is burnt with complete control to convert it into residue and gaseous products. The operating temperature of the incinerator is 1200 degrees C.

Why is it beneficial? It is beneficial because:

  1. No pretreatment of the waste material is required.
  2. The resultant volume of the waste material is reduced up to 80%.
  3. This process can be carried out on a small scale.
  • Chemical Disinfection

What is it? In this process, strong chemicals such as chlorine compounds are used to disinfect pharmaceutical waste including liquids. The waste material is shredded before exposing it to the chemical agent. Other oxidants such as aldehydes and phenols are also used as chemical agents.

Why is it beneficial?  It is beneficial because:

  1. Kills harmful bacteria such as Streptococcus and E. coli
  2. Solid waste is also treated by using this method.
  3. The end-product is safe to pass to the sewer system.
  • Secure Land Filling

What is it? Discarded waste material is buried in abandoned quarries; borrow pits, and mining voids. Cytotoxic drugs and solid chemical wastes are disposed of these secured landfills. These landfills have an extraction system that extracts the landfill gas using perforated pipes.

Why is it beneficial? It is beneficial because:

  1. It is an easy and efficient process.
  2. This process helps in disposing of all types of waste materials.
  3. The secured land filling does not contaminate the soil and groundwater.
  • On-Site Destruction

What is it? Pharmaceutical waste can be destroyed by using specific disposal machines or equipment. All types of chemical waste, whether it is solid or liquid, are placed in these machines. In the end, finely disposed of end-product is obtained.

Why is it beneficial?

  1. This process can be carried out on the site of waste production.
  2. These machines produce zero harmful emissions.
  3. This process saves a lot of time by disposing of the waste in just one cycle.

Is Pharmaceutical Waste Dangerous? If Yes, Then how?

If pharmaceutical waste is not disposed of appropriately, then it has the potential to spread various contagious diseases. These contagious diseases include:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Dysentery
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus
  • Giardiasis
  • Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

How to Store Your Pharmaceutical Waste before Handing It over To Waste Disposal Company?

  • Step 1: Storage
  • Always store your waste in compliance with EPA recommended guidelines.
  • Separate liquid pharmaceutical waste from solid pharmaceutical waste.
  • Use EPA sanctioned containers, drip pads, tanks, waste piles, and surface impoundments for storage.
  • Tag the packages by using symbols. Pack hazardous and non-hazardous wastes separately.
  • Step 2: Maintain Safety
  • Mention the amount and volume of waste they hold on the containers.
  • Keep reactive waste materials at least 50 feet away from each other.
  • Do not expose your waste to fire, water, or electricity.
  • Do not keep the waste for a long time. Get it disposed of by a waste management company as soon as possible.

Are There Any Benefits to Hire A Waste Disposal Company?

There are many benefits to hiring a waste disposal company. Some of them are:

  • Cost-effective: Waste disposal companies can offer you waste hauling services with a variety of truck sizes. These trucks can carry a large number of waste products at a very cost-effective price.
  • Safe service: Due to the contagious nature of pharmaceutical waste, you cannot dispose of it on your own. Disposal companies have the right strategy and machinery to dispose of and treat waste material.
  • Helps in saving time: Waste disposal companies will help you to get rid of waste material as fast as possible. Their trained professionals complete their job without any supervision.
  • You can manage your time efficiently: By hiring a waste disposal company you can focus on other aspects of your business instead of stressing on waste disposal.

The Bottom Line

Pharmaceutical waste management is a great challenge for city administrators, quality assurance, government administrations, policy planners, and the recycling industry. It doesn’t matter which medical waste your business is producing, it is very important to treat and dispose of it. Neglecting hazardous medical waste can jeopardize your workers’ health and public safety. Nowadays Medical waste disposal companies provide cost-effective services to manage and dispose of dangerous pharmacological waste. These companies work in compliance with industry and government standards. Focus on safely containing and disposing of your hazardous waste material by hiring a respectable medical waste company.