Health care industry

Health care providers are subject to federal, state, and sometimes county hazardous waste regulations because they generate waste that, if mismanaged, can harm human health and the environment. The requirements of these regulations include, but are not limited to:

  • Evaluate all waste to determine whether it is hazardous; assume that all waste that has not been evaluated is hazardous,
  • Store hazardous waste in closed and labeled containers,
  • Transport hazardous waste using only licensed hazardous waste haulers, except for very small quantity generators transporting their own waste to approved collection programs,
  • Discharge appropriate hazardous waste to the sanitary sewer (not septic systems) only after prior notice to the local wastewater treatment authority.
    Note:the MPCA strongly discourages sewering pharmaceutical waste.

Health care spotlight

Regulatory consensus

Hazardous waste programs at the MPCA and the metropolitan counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington have reached a consensus on the interpretations, guidance, and allowances on health care-related wastes.

Pharmaceutical reverse distribution

In Minnesota, expired or unused pharmaceuticals is considered a waste and subject to Hazardous Waste Rules. However, the MPCA allows a conditional alternative to manage certain pharmaceuticals through the reverse distribution system.

Pollution prevention for healthcare facilities

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), a non-regulatory pollution prevention program at the University of Minnesota, teams with the MPCA to provide compliance and waste reduction guidance specifically tailored toward healthcare facilities, including hospitals, surgery centers, clinical laboratories, dental offices, family practice and specialty clinics, imaging and radiology, long-term care, pharmacies, and veterinary clinics.

Guidance documents

Hazardous waste guidance for health care providers

Hazardous waste guidance for environmental managers

General hazardous waste requirements

Partners and resources

Metro county hazardous waste offices

Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB)

SWMCB is a joint powers board that coordinates regional initiatives of the solid and hazardous waste programs in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington counties.


Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) is responsible for collecting and treating wastewater from the the seven-county Twin Cities area. They work with industries to reduce the amount of pollution entering the wastewater collection system. Call 651-602-4703: Binary Data Metropolitan Council

Greater Minnesota Delegated Programs

  • Albert Lea 507-373-9159
  • Mankato 507-387-8665
  • Owatonna 507-444-2452
  • Red Wing 651-385-3641
  • Rochester 507-281-6190 x 3006
  • St. Cloud 320-255-7225
  • WLSSD (Duluth area) 218-740-4815
  • Winona 507-457-8207

Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP)

MnTAP offers resources and guidance to healthcare providers, both on waste and regulatory issues and sustainability topics. Call 612-624-1300 or 800-247-0015 toll free.

Minnesota Department of Health

  • Radioactive waste 651-642-0492

Other resources

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

  • Toll free (all locations) 800-657-3864