What SB 212 Means for CA Businesses

When SB212 takes effect January 1, 2021, it will impact many California businesses. This upcoming disposal law mandates sharps and medications must be properly disposed of through a takeback system.

What does this new law mean for California businesses that handle pharmaceutical drug waste and sharps?  Here’s who it impacts, how it affects them, and why this law was put in place.

CA Pharmaceutical Manufacturers

For pharmaceutical manufacturers, SB212 will mean that they need to provide a way for their customers to properly dispose of their injectable medicine needles. As this list on Safe Needle Disposal.org demonstrates, many are already on board by offering a mailback program or other takeback solution.

Small Business Sharp Generators

SB212 also means that small businesses who produce needles or sharps will need demonstrate that they are properly disposing of their medical waste. This includes businesses like medical clinics, skilled nursing facilities, dentists, veterinarians, acupuncturists, tattoo artists, microbladers and body pierces.

Those with a lot of sharps and medical waste will likely use a local medical waste hauler. However, smaller medical waste generators (30 lbs or less a month) might find a medical waste mailback service more economical.

Home Users: Don’t Throw Your Needles Away 

California home (not business) sharps users are encouraged to also get behind the intent of the SB212. Visit CA’s Public Health list of sharps collection stations to learn where you can properly dispose of your sharps. Or, use a mailback kit.

Why Use a Sharps Mailback Kit?

Medical waste mailback kits are a simple and cost-effective way to dispose of sharps or other medical waste.

MERI offers a program to mail sharps for compliant destruction through a “mail back waste system.”  It’s also known as a Medical Waste Recovery System.

It’s as easy as it sounds. We’ll mail you an MWRS kit, which includes all the certified infectious waste collection containers you need (we offer various sizes).  You simply fill the container with your sharps and ship it directly to us.

Two copies of a manifest will be included along with the mailback kit. When your kit is ready to send back, sign your name on one of the manifests and place it back in the sleeve. Keep the other for your records.

We’ll use the email you provided when ordering your mail back system to notify you once the waste has been safely received and destroyed. You’ll have a manifest record of the destruction – which is required under SB 212. If you lose your copy, don’t worry. Just ask us to send you a copy. We keep them on file for five years.

We’ve written extensively about why this system works great for tattoo parlors, microbladers, clinics, and other small waste generators.  But the skinny is this: no expensive pick-ups from medical waste companies; no tough contracts. Only pay when you need it.

Why is SB 212 necessary? 

According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), about 936 million sharps are used each year. A shocking 31 percent of them are thrown in the trash!

These stray sharps harm the environment. They injure and infect people who accidentally prick themselves.

Thus, California decided an “Extended Producer Responsibility” was only fair. It is the first state to put this takeback system in place.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

EPR “extends” the responsibility of sharps and drug disposal to the producers of those products (as well as everyone in the supply chain) – as opposed to just the end user and local government. The California Product Stewardship Council, which sponsored SB 212, argued doing so would:

  • Put responsibility on the producer, so they can make informed marketing and design decisions
  • Integrate the cost of waste treatment and disposal into the total cost of the products
  • Help keep environmental impact of products top of mind, for producers, generators AND consumers

Plus, it’s not just SB 212 holding small waste generators accountable. The Department of Transportation’s penalty for non-compliance can run up to thousands of dollars, per violation, per day.

CalRecycle is responsible for developing SB 212 regulations and administering the program, but we want to help your business get ahead of the curve.

Having a way to mailback your sharps will remove any doubt that they’re following the rules easily, compliantly and affordably.