How To Dispose of Off-Spec Pharmaceuticals

How To Dispose of Off-Spec Pharmaceuticals

Many think that you can dispose of any type of trash however you want, as long as it’s legal. However, disposing of off-spec pharmaceuticals such as outdated medication isn’t as simple as throwing it away with normal trash. There are certain rules for how you should dispose of these items. Keep reading to learn more about what these pharmaceuticals are, why you must dispose of them a certain way, and how you should dispose of them.

What Are Off-Spec Pharmaceuticals?

Off-spec is a shortened version of “out of specification,” and pharmaceutical refers to medicinal drugs. Off-spec pharmaceuticals are medicinal drugs that don’t meet manufacturer specifications for various reasons.

Some of the most common reasons within the pharmaceutical industry are errors in quality control, lab equipment malfunctions, product equipment malfunctions, and human errors during the manufacturing process. Other common reasons for pharmaceuticals to meet the broad off-spec definition are that they expire before they’re used or are damaged during transportation.

Whatever the reason for the off-spec classification, the law requires their specific and safe disposal. All professionals within the pharmaceutical industry must follow these disposal laws.

Why Do Specific Disposal Laws Exist?

Why are there such specific laws about disposing of off-spec pharmaceuticals? A few damaged pills don’t seem to pose that much of a threat in most circumstances. However, when too many people or entire industries decide that they’ll dispose of these items however they see fit, chaos ensues.

For example, some businesses try to sell off-spec pharmaceuticals instead of disposing of them in order to make a profit. This is dangerous for the company, as it can face legal repercussions and damage its reputation, but even more so for the people who buy this medication. Damaged, expired, or otherwise off-spec medication can seriously harm whoever consumes it. Many people don’t suspect this harm if they’re buying it from a legitimate business, which is why laws are in place for proper disposal.

In addition to protecting potential medication users, these laws also prevent problems from hazardous materials. Some medications could fit one of the hazardous waste characteristics, especially if there’s an error in manufacturing. Hazardous waste characteristics are ignitability, toxicity, reactivity, and corrosivity. Once waste has one or more of those characteristics, companies must adhere to certain rules for its proper disposal to prevent damage to the environment or harm to consumers.

How Should You Dispose of Them?

The appropriate disposal method for off-spec pharmaceuticals depends on the type of pharmaceuticals they are and how you obtained them. Some companies will allow your business to send off-specs back to them, by mail or another safe method, so that they can handle the disposal. As long as the off-specs are not hazardous, this is a safe option that many businesses take advantage of.

However, this isn’t always an option. Sometimes you’re required to destroy or otherwise dispose of the off-specs, and the company you bought them from is not willing to do so. You can hire another company, such as Clean Management Environmental Group, to handle the disposal for you. We are well aware of the rules and regulations in place and can safely dispose of any off-spec pharmaceuticals for you.


There are various environmentally friendly ways we can dispose of your items. Incineration is one of our popular options. The government allows us to incinerate solid materials once they’re removed from plastic containers, foil packets, or other forms of packaging. However, they do not allow anyone to incinerate heavy metals, medications that contain iodine, sharp items such as needles, and other materials that could prove hazardous under incineration.


Another disposal option is shredding. Most pharmaceuticals are solid and thus difficult to shred, but it is possible to do so. It’s more common to shred any confidential paperwork pertaining to the pharmaceuticals, which we can take care of.


Waste-to-energy is a popular environmentally friendly form of disposal. While this form of disposal is only possible with non-hazardous waste, it opens a door of possibility in energy conservation. Taking off-spec pharmaceuticals and other trash that would normally sit in a landfill for years and combusting it to turn into energy is great for our planet. Ash and gases are properly collected to limit any negative environmental impact this form of disposal may have.


Many people know that they can compost at home, but we can also compost off-spec pharmaceuticals in some cases. Again, the items cannot possess any hazardous characteristics, since compost requires the breakdown of the materials. Once we ensure that the items aren’t hazardous or could become hazardous during their natural breakdown process, we can move forward with composting them. This also benefits the environment, even though it’s a slower method than waste-to-energy.


Landfill burial is our last option for disposal, and many other businesses use this option with or without our help. While landfills aren’t the most environmentally friendly option for waste disposal, they are sometimes the only option. Off-spec pharmaceuticals pose potential risks to people and the environment and require safe disposal—even if that disposal isn’t environmentally friendly. Burying these items in a landfill will prevent people from obtaining them and getting hurt.

Your Business

Your business can use these disposal methods even if you don’t partner with our company. Take the time to check the rules and regulations to make sure you’re disposing of your off-spec pharmaceuticals in a safe and responsible way. Ignoring those rules is potentially hazardous and can hurt your business, your employees, the public, and the environment. Your business could also face legal repercussions if it fails to properly dispose of off-spec pharmaceuticals.

Knowing how to dispose of off-spec pharmaceuticals is important for anyone who partakes in this industry. No matter what your business does, if you work with pharmaceuticals, you need to know how to safely dispose of them. Clean Management Environmental Group offers safe product destruction services for off-spec pharmaceuticals, both hazardous and non-hazardous, as well as for other off-spec items. Partnering with us to dispose of these items will help protect your business and ensure you’re in compliance with all regulations. Reach out to us today to get a quote.

How To Dispose of Off-Spec Pharmaceuticals

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