Keeping up with waste compliance can be confusing and expensive. With dental offices subject to numerous regulations at the federal, state, and county level, knowing which compliance protocols are applicable to your practice is a challenge for any office. Not to mention, waste is a broad category comprised of a variety of issues that lack actionable solutions. Thankfully, compliance is easier to achieve than it seems. Here’s a breakdown of key waste compliance issues in terms of their (a) problems, (b) regulations, and (c) solutions:


1. Bio-Hazard and Sharps Waste

THE PROBLEM: Many dental practices opt for a medical waste truck pick-up service that requires a long-term contract on top of charging additional fees for fuel, missed pick-ups and more. As a result, dentists who traditionally generate small quantities of waste (about 2-3 gallons per year) are forced into a scheduled monthly pick-up, even if they only require a quarterly or biannual pick-up.

THE REGULATIONS: The requirement to dispose of regulated medical waste is a federal requirement, but state-run OSHA programs can add additional requirements specific to that state.

  • REGULATED WASTE is defined as “liquid or semi-liquid blood or OPIM; contaminated items that would release blood or OPIM in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed.”
  • CONTAMINATED SHARPS are defined as “any contaminated object that can penetrate the skin skin including (but not limited to) needles, scalpels, broken glass, broken capillary tubes and exposed ends of dental wire.”
  • States that have additional storage limitations are AZ, AR, CA, DE, FL, MI, MI, NV, NH, NJ, PA, SC, VA, WV, WI.

THE SOLUTION: PureWay® Sharps Disposal Systems are an on-demand, convenient and cost-effective alternative to pick-up services. There are no contracts, monthly fees or fuel surcharges involved. Simply purchase each system as needed or per your state requirement.  Ranging from 1-quart to 30-gallon containers, these mail-back systems can replace a costly pickup service and already include a prepaid return shipping box that allows for complete tracking and documentation. When ready, simply place your container in the prepaid return box and give it to your local carrier.

2. Mercury Waste

THE PROBLEM: Much of the mercury that enters our wastewaters originates from dental amalgam. Tiny particles of amalgam can bypass chairside traps every time an amalgam filling is placed or removed. After water treatment, mercury is distributed back in the form of precipitation and consumed by fish, making its way into our food chain.

THE REGULATIONS: At least 12 states and numerous localities have mandatory mercury pretreatment programs in place. At the federal level, the EPA recently announced that it would be formulating a nationwide rule regulating disposal methods for dental amalgam. This rule is expected to be finalized in the near future.

THE SOLUTION: It is possible to significantly reduce the amount of mercury entering wastewaters by installing an amalgam separator. Installation is extremely simple and allows dentists to eliminate 99% of their solid mercury waste, and maintenance usually involves replacing the canister once it’s full, generally every 6-12 months.

3. X-Ray Waste

THE PROBLEM: Dental offices generate many different forms of waste as a result of traditional x-ray processing that can have a serious impact on wastewaters and soil.

THE REGULATIONS: The disposal of used fixer is strictly regulated nationwide due to its high toxicity level. However, many regulations can vary significantly by location. To determine your waste disposal requirements, contact a PureWay compliance specialist.

THE SOLUTION: X-ray waste can be prevented from entering the environment by implementing an x-ray waste collection and recycling program. This includes capturing photochemical liquid waste in an approved UN/DOT storage container and adding a solidifying solution to render the chemicals non-toxic so that the waste can be disposed of in the regular trash. The optimal solution is to shift to a digital x-ray system.


Achieve complete waste compliance with PureWay Waste Solutions! Save up to 50% on your waste compliance products and services– no contracts required! Call 877-765-3030 to talk to a Waste Management Specialist OR visit our website to request a FREE no-obligation quote.