Guide to Managing Dental Waste

This resource has been developed by the Department of Solid Waste to provide businesses with guidance on how to properly manage wastes in accordance with federal, state, and local laws.

Image of dentist performing a dental exam

Dental Offices can Go Green too!


  • Refuse Junk Mail
    • Register with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association
    • Phone specific companies and ask to be taken off their mailing list
  • Refuse to purchase products with excess packaging
    • Patronize suppliers who minimize packaging or use recyclable packaging


  • Purchase in bulk to reduce packaging waste
  • Use digital technologies – go paperless as much as possible with suppliers and customers
  • Use steam sterilization instead of chemicals
  • Ask if patient wants a “goodie bag”
  • Replace plastic goodie bag with small paper bag (brown sandwich bag)


  • Switch from single-use paper bio-bibs to cloth
  • Replace single use plastic products with re-usable stainless steel items

Examples: impression trays and suction tips

Purchase recycled content:

  • Office paper
  • Files folders
  • Toilet paper

Best Management Practice for Scrap Amalgam

Best management practice for scrap amalgam. Excess, damaged, or out-of-date amalgam from vacuum filters, separators and chair-side traps or from extracted teeth (with amalgam only) can be reclaimed. Place it in a designated closable container. Decontaminate as required by recycler. Label as required by recycle or with "Amalgam for Recycling" and mark with start date. Ship to mercury reclamation facility. Maintain written records. Can ship up to 2 pounds without meeting Department of Transportation regulations.
The Dental Amalgam Separator Rule (40 CFR Part 441) went into effect on July 14, 2017

New Information

The Dental Amalgam Separator Rule (40 CFR Part 441) went into effect on July 14, 2017.

The rule requires most general dentists to install an amalgam separator in order to contain the release of

Compliance date for the majority of dentists was July 14, 2020.

Requirements of the rule include:

  • Ensure the removal of all dental amalgam from process wastewater using amalgam separator(s) (or equivalent device(s))
    • Implement best management practices
    • Comply with reporting requirements
    • Maintain compliance documents and make available for inspection

The rule is mandatory with some specific exemptions.

For further information visit:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Management of Regulated Wastes Typically Generated at Dental Facilities

Visit for information on hazardous waste disposal and recycling.

Waste Type Source Disposal Options
See new Dental Amalgam Separator Rule on left
  • Traps
  • Screens
  • Excess mix (unused)
  • Damage capsules
  • Extracted teeth:
    Teeth containing amalgam cannot be managed as biomedical waste.
1. Reclaimed via mercury reclamation facility
2. Manage as hazardous waste
Empty Amalgam Capsule Pre-capsulated amalgam use 1. Dispose in trash
Fixer X-ray process 1. Take off-site for recycling
2. Treat before discharge to sewer
(must recycle recovered silver)
3. Manage as hazardous waste
Unused Developer X-ray process 1. Manage as non-hazardous industrial waste; cannot be discharged to sewer system
X-ray Film X-ray film 1. Reclaim via metal reclamation facility
  • Lead foils
  • Bite wings
  • Discarded lead shields and aprons
X-ray process 1. Reclaim via metal reclamation facility
2. Manage as hazardous waste
Universal Wastes
  • Lamps (e.g. LEDs, fluorescents, HIDs) mercury-containing devices
(water-bath thermometers, thermostats, sphygmomanometers)
Throughout facility 1. Recycle via universal waste destination facility
2. Manage as hazardous waste
Waste or Bulk Mercury
  • Spills
  • Spill clean-up
1. Reclaim via mercury reclamation facility
2. Manage as hazardous waste

Compliance Tips

Written documentation of waste management/disposal is always recommended.

  • Wastes recycled for their metal value, i.e. silver and mercury, do not count as hazardous waste toward your generator status.
  • If you opt to use a silver recovery unit, check the unit daily for leaks, spills and overflows. Work closely with your supplier for help in developing a changeover schedule based on your volumes of silver-bearing solutions.
  • Pinellas County and its municipalities have limitations on concentrations of pollutants, such as metals, discharged to the sewer system. Verify your wastewater discharge limits at
  • Amalgam waste should never be put in with biomedical (red bag) waste. For information on biomedical waste, visit
  • Never rinse amalgam traps over drains or discard in the garbage.
  • Place mercury spill kits in convenient locations; never use a regular vacuum to clean up a mercury spill.
  • Follow ANSI/ADA specification 109 requirements for amalgam waste storage and shipment.

Contact Us

For more information or to request a printed copy of this guide, contact the Pinellas County Small Quantity Generator Program at (727) 464-7500 or