Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Veterinary medicines

What you must do

Assess waste for its medicinal, chemical and infectious properties. You can use the information on the safety data sheet (SDS) which accompanies chemicals and medicines to determine whether or not it has hazardous properties.

You must deal with some chemicals and medicines as hazardous/special waste.

Out-of-date veterinary medicines which are cytotoxic (harmful to cell structure and function and which could ultimately cause cell death) and cytostatic (inhibit or suppress cell growth or multiplication) are classed as hazardous/special waste. Empty containers may contain residual medicines so may also be considered hazardous/special waste.

Always dispose of medicines in a safe and secure way. You should never flush them down the toilet or mix with general waste.

Check if you need to register any exemptions

You may need to register an exemption from waste management licensing for certain activities. If you have an exemption you must still ensure that your activity does not:

  • endanger human health or pollute water, air or soil
  • cause a risk to plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance in terms of noise and odour
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest.

Waste management licensing

Store veterinary waste safely

In Scotland you must register a paragraph 39 exemption if you store waste medicines and veterinary waste, such as hypodermic needles and syringes. In Northern Ireland, there is no requirement to register an exemption.

Good practice

Segregate your waste, to help reduce disposal costs. This will also reduce the amount of waste that is classed as hazardous/special waste.

Store infectious material separately and send it for incineration.

Collect offensive waste or hygiene waste separately to your other waste. This includes animal bedding and faeces from pets or wild animals. If this waste has no infectious properties, you can send it to landfill.

British Veterinary Association: Good practice guide to handling veterinary waste in Scotland

British Veterinary Association: Good practice guide to handling veterinary waste in Northern Ireland

Department of Health: Safe Management of Healthcare Waste

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