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Pharmaceutical Waste

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Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Services

Pharmaceutical waste includes any waste drugs and medicines, and must be disposed of in the blue waste stream before waste collection and disposal.

Ensuring the correct disposal of pharmaceutical waste is essential to protect the environment and the general public in accordance with UK legislation. Initial Medical’s service will support you through the process of the destruction, storage, and removal of used or expired pharmaceutical products.

We provide robust pharmaceutical waste containers for the storage of old medicines, as well as controlled drug denaturing kits to prevent hazardous misuse or malconsumption. Our local expert technicians will be on hand to collect and replace your pharmaceutical bins, following a schedule tailored to meet your business needs. We will also advise you on how to ensure your practice complies with waste and environmental legislation through your pharmaceutical waste disposal.

Understanding the correct protocol for pharmaceutical waste management is vital for any business, particularly where hazardous waste is concerned. This is why we provide support for all producers of medicinal waste, including pharmacies, chemists and nursing facilities. Contact your local Initial Medical expert to find out how we can keep your business safe and compliant.

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What happens next?

1. Contact

Contact us and a member of our expert Initial Medical team will be in touch.

  • Trusted, local consultants
  • Enquiries are returned within 24 hours

2. Survey

We will visit your practice and carry out a comprehensive review of your waste management structure.

  • A free survey from a specialist Initial Medical consultant
  • A bespoke service schedule based on your needs
  • Full guidance on your waste legislation requirements

3. Installation

Our expert technicians will carry out a thorough installation service or provide the required containers if no installation is required.

  • An appointment scheduled at a time to suit you
  • Specialist guidance on how to use and manage your new containers
  • Minimal disruption to your healthcare practice

4. Service

Your local expert technician will service your waste based on your bespoke service agreement.

  • Hands-on support from your local Initial Medical consultant
  • Servicing tailored to suit your business's schedule
  • 24/7 access to service documents through myInitial
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Frequently asked questions


  • What is considered pharmaceutical waste?

    Any waste product that contains medicinal drugs is considered pharmaceutical waste. Examples of these waste products include liquid or tablet medication that has expired, is partially used or is no longer usable because of contamination or damage.


  • What colour pharmaceutical waste container should I use?

    Waste products containing medicinal drugs must be disposed of into the blue pharmaceutical waste stream (blue lidded bins). Most medicinal products are not considered hazardous waste.

    The only exceptions to this rule are those medicines that contain cytotoxic or cytostatic properties, which are disposed of into the purple waste stream (purple lidded bins). Cytotoxic and cytostatic medicines are best known for their successes in cancer treatment and are therefore especially common in hospitals. The toxic nature of these drugs means they are considered hazardous waste products.

    Find out more about the different waste streams in our colour coding guide.


  • How to dispose of pharmaceutical waste

    Pharmaceutical waste must be disposed of in its original packaging. Liquids and solids must be kept in separate bins, so make sure you notify staff about these waste disposal requirements and position your pharmaceutical waste bins appropriately.

    Once you have correctly segregated your pharmaceutical waste into blue and purple lidded containers, you must store these containers out of the way of staff, customers, patients and particularly children, preferably in a lockable space and kept separate from other waste streams, such as clinical and offensive waste.

    Having a proper pharmaceutical waste management plan in place with Initial Medical will ensure that you have frequent pharmaceutical waste collections scheduled in accordance with tight legislation and regulations, keeping you compliant and avoid the build-up of ageing pharmaceutical waste being left on your premises.


  • How can you reduce your pharmaceutical waste quantity?

    The Pharmaceutical Journal outlines in detail the causes of medicines waste in hospitals and pharmacies in particular. The key reasons given for unnecessary medicines waste are:

    • The failure to encourage and educate patients to bring their own drugs into healthcare facilities.
    • High patient turnover in accident and emergency departments and the transfer of patients lead to the ordering of medicines that are left unused or become lost.
    • Upon discharge, patients aren't asked enough about over-the-counter drugs they hold at home, leading to drug duplication and hoarding.
    • The stock of medicines kept in pharmacies expire because of insufficient stock control.

    If a particular area resonates with you, review procedures in your practice as a priority and monitor the waste disposal reduction you manage to achieve, before considering other areas.