Spotlight: pharmacuetical waste

Don’t flush or trash your old pills, unless you want them to end up in our drinking water! In 2008, an AP investigation found that “A vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones – have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.” Not good!

We’d like to see Producer TakeBack programs in place that would make it easy for anyone to return their unused pharmaceuticals. And we’re not the only ones. From the Product Policy Institute:

“The National Association of Counties (NACo), the country’s largest local government organization, has unanimously adopted a policy supporting producer responsibility for unwanted medicines. The expense of taking back unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs would be handled by the pharmaceutical industry, without relying on state or local government funding.”

This won’t be a simple solution; drug enforcement laws can be quite complicated when it comes to recovering old pills. But the principal that the manufacturers should be responsible for their waste should still apply.

In some states and cities, manufacturers are teaming up with local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies to provide free, convenient recycling locations — usually at the nearest drugstore. We’re already seeing the beginnings of such a system in Texas. Here’s a current map of local participating drugstores. Recycle away!

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