Dental & Medical
How to dispose of and recycle amalgam waste
April 16, 2019
Dentists have long used dental amalgam to fill cavities in teeth, but practitioners are increasingly recycling old amalgam instead of discarding it.
Dental amalgam needs to be disposed of responsibly otherwise dangerous materials like mercury can have a devastating impact on the environment.
While the amount of mercury in dental amalgam is safe for most people, it can convert into highly toxic methylmercury when it ends up in our waterways and contaminates the fish that we eat.
It takes just one gram of mercury to contaminate a billion litres of water, so it’s important that everyone gets involved in recycling dental amalgam.
Here’s how you can recycle dental amalgam:
The first thing to do is check whether your dental chair is equipped with an amalgam separator to stop pieces of amalgam from entering the sewer.
If you don’t have a separator, most dental surgeries only need one or two and they can be installed within days of getting in touch with our dental specialists.
The separator is usually stored in a cupboard, suction room or outside, so it’s likely that you will forget it’s even there.
The separator will be swapped for a clean device once a year, with the process only taking about 15 minutes.
The old separator then comes back to our purpose-built, fully EPA-licensed facilities, where it is safely stored until it is ready to be processed.
The amalgam waste is removed from the separator, which is cleaned and sanitised to be used again.
The old amalgam goes into a distiller and extracts the high-purity mercury, which can be re-used for new fillings.
The leftover material goes through another recycling process to recover the residual silver.
Get started today
As you can see, amalgam separators provide a closed-loop recycling solution that protects our water supplies and the wider environment.
Unfortunately, there are still many dentals chairs that aren’t fitted with amalgam separators in Australia.
Alternatively, some chairs with separators aren’t replaced and serviced regularly enough, increasing the risk of harmful metals entering sewers.
If you want to find out more about recycling dental amalgam, Ecocycle has more than 20 years’ experience in collecting and recovering mercury from dental amalgam waste.
Give us a call on 1300 32 62 92, or fill out the form below to speak with one of our dental specialists and see how we can get you recycling dental amalgam in no time.