Encapsulation involves immobilizing the pharmaceuticals in a solid block within a plastic or steel drum. Drums should be cleaned prior to use and should not have contained explosive or hazardous materials previously. They are filled to 75% capacity with solid and semi-solid pharmaceuticals, and the remaining space is filled by pouring in a medium such as cement or cement/lime mixture, plastic foam or bituminous sand. For ease and speed of filling, the drum lids should be cut open and bent back. Care should be taken to avoid cuts to hands when placing pharmaceuticals in the drums. Once the drums are filled to 75% capacity, the mixture of lime, cement and water in the proportions 15:15:5 (by weight) is added and the drum filled to capacity. A larger quantity of water may be required sometimes to attain a satisfactory liquid consistency. Steel drum lids should then be bent back and sealed, ideally by seam or spot welding. The sealed drums should be placed at the base of a landfill and covered with fresh municipal solid waste. For ease of movement, the drums may be placed on pallets which can then be put on a pallet transporter.
Encapsulation of antineoplastic drugs requires a slightly different technique (see Section 4.6).