Universal Waste Proposal for Pharmaceuticals Reaches OMB

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sent a rulemaking proposal to the Office of Management and Budget that, if approved, will add hazardous pharmaceutical wastes to the universal waste system.

OMB has 90 days to review and approve the proposal for publication in the Federal Register. However, EPA said it hopes to publish the proposal in December.

According to EPA, pharmaceutical wastes are produced by a various and vast community of generators and are often mismanaged due to health care workers and retail chain employees being unfamiliar with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. Expansion of the universal waste system to include hazardous pharmaceutical wastes may help, the agency says.

In addition, EPA says the simplified requirements in the proposal also will provide regulatory relief to health care facilities, retail pharmacies, veterinary clinics, and any other entities that generate hazardous pharmaceutical wastes. Specifically, the inclusion of hazardous pharmaceutical wastes in the universal waste rule is expected to provide relief in the management of P-listed pharmaceuticals by simplifying current requirements of large quantity generators.

As a side benefit, the agency also anticipates the rule may encourage health care personnel to manage "other" pharmaceutical wastes as universal wastes, particularly wastes that are not regulated as hazardous but which nonetheless pose hazards. Also, the addition of hazardous pharmaceutical wastes to the rule should facilitate pharmaceutical take-back programs so that these wastes can be properly managed, EPA says. For more information, visit www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?ruleID=287114.

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