EPA proposes tweaks to hazardous waste guidelines

EPA proposes tweaks to hazardous waste guidelines

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to change two hazardous waste regulations, the agency announced on Monday. 

The new rules are designed to provide more flexibility for the healthcare sector and waste producers within it, Mathy Stanislaus, the assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, wrote in an agency blog post. 

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One of the new rules is designed to protect waterways by preventing the flushing of hazardous waste from pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The rule would ban healthcare facilities from flushing waste pharmaceuticals down toilets or sinks, something the agency said would prevent more than 6,400 tons of hazardous waste from entering the water supply. 

“Pharmaceuticals entering the environment, through flushing or other means, are having a negative effect on aquatic ecosystems and on fish and animal populations,” Stanislaus wrote in his blog post

“Our proposal is keeping pace with today’s environmental issues by banning the sewering, or flushing down the toilet or sink, of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals from healthcare facilities.”

The other rule looks to improve the labeling of materials that produce hazardous waste. The rule, the EPA said, would give healthcare facilities clearer information about how to deal with the waste products. 

The EPA said the proposed rules are based on consultation with states, healthcare facilities, manufacturers that generate hazardous waste, retailers and others.

“In order to keep our world safe and healthy, regulations should not only effectively manage sources of environmental harm, but also be flexible and clear enough for newcomers to understand,” Stanislaus wrote. 

The new rules will go through a 60-day public comment period before they’re finalized.