Are You Getting the Service You Paid For?  Proper Disposal of your Amalgam Separator

Are You Getting the Service You Paid For? Proper Disposal of your Amalgam Separator


We have reached the end of the blog series reviewing the responsibilities of a service technician and the Dental Staff when it comes to the compliance of an amalgam separator.

The first few segments of this series broke down the compliance tasks that can be done by the dental staff and which tasks can be outsourced to a Service Technician. The last portion of this blog series will be speaking about the disposal of your amalgam separator. No matter what system you have, if you have moved from one system to another, or shutting down your practice, your amalgam separator needs to be disposed of properly. M.A.R.S will be highlighting the mistakes made by Dental Service Providers, leaving Dental Practices non-compliant.

Misunderstanding Service Lives

Unfortunately, there has been either intentionally misleading or a simple misinterpretation of the law in regards to amalgam separator service lives. Many Amalgam Separator Manufacturers have been informing the Dental Industry that amalgam separators must be changed annually, this is incorrect.

Amalgam Separators are to be maintained to the manufacturer’s specification or when the system stops functioning as intended. Where some of the confusion lies, there is a requirement regarding mercury waste, which restricts the storage of material to twelve months.

Storage of Material

Many States, like New York and Michigan, allow Dental Practices to store restricted material on their premises for up to 12 months. The purpose of this time period is to allow the Dental Practice enough time to accumulate enough waste to justify paying for disposal through a licensed recycler.

Not all regulations are like that, as an example, in the Province of Ontario, the Ministry of the Environment requires Dental Practices to apply for a permit if the material is stored in a Dental Practice for longer than 90 days.

Amalgam Separator in Service

Used amalgam separator containers/filters, non-contact/contact amalgam, and chairside traps are all examples of material that fall under this rule. As long as the amalgam separator is in use, and the Dental Practice is following the manufacturer specification on the system’s service life, an amalgam separator can last more than one year. Currently, the ONLY no maintenance amalgam separator with a service life longer than one year is the M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS.

no maintenance

Proper Disposal of Old Amalgam Separators

Most amalgam separators come with recycling, either the purchase of the new system includes the recycling of the previous system, or the recycling is prepaid. It is important to clarify this information before making your final purchase. There are a few good notes to know regarding the disposal of an amalgam separator.

Disposal of the Entire Unit

When switching from one brand of amalgam separator to another, it is important to have your old amalgam recycled in its entirety. All filter based amalgam separators come in two parts; the upper chamber and the filter. When replacing those units, you are required to recycle the whole system, as all of it is contaminated with toxic waste.

Many untrained Service Companies unknowingly, throw out old amalgam separator illegally, leaving the Dental Practice liable. When switching from one amalgam separator brand to another, it is important to ensure your previous unit gets recycled legally. If your Service Company sells you an amalgam separator without disposing of your previous unit, they are doing you a disservice, as they are leaving your Practice non-compliant.

All Trusted M.A.R.S Distributors are trained to properly contain and dispose of all mercury waste safely and correctly, leaving their clients compliant.

Old Amalgam Separator Disposal

When upgrading your Dental Practice to a LibertyBOSS, M.A.R.S has designed our packaging to contain most amalgam separator on the market for disposal safely.

Receipt of Recycling

The system can be recycled through the Amalgam Separator Manufacturer OR a facility within your country that will reclaim or distil the mercury. Either way, wherever you recycle your amalgam separator through, be sure to get a receipt of recycling to keep for your records.

Any proof of recycling should be kept in your records for up to three years, keep in mind, it doesn’t hurt to keep it longer.

Environmentally Friendly Recycling

For those of you who are interested in the environmental aspect of amalgam separation, it is important to know the waste generated by disposal units, like the ones with filters.

All “clear” amalgam separators are injection moulded, already making them harder to recycle. In addition to the processes in which they are made, to access these “disposable” filters, they have to be cut open, making them unusable.

plastic only disposal

The M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS is not only reusable; it is recyclable as well! When the use of the LibertyBOSS shell has exceeded its usefulness, the units are ground down, and the plastic is repurposed for another use. With the M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS, no plastic ends up in the landfills.

M.A.R.S moves our Invasion to Chicago

Follow M.A.R.S as we walk the Exhibit Halls of the Chicago Mid-Winter Dental Conference. Learn about our Trusted Distributor’s show specials, special events we attend, and any new friends we might make along the way.

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