[Pharmwaste] FW: OH MY - For Medication Disposal, New Advice Is Trash BeatsTake-Back

Amy.Roering at co.hennepin.mn.us Amy.Roering at co.hennepin.mn.us
Fri May 18 14:18:42 EDT 2012

Agreed -- discussion is good.

The conclusion are not that surprising when a person factors in transportation (similar conclusions have been drawn about batteries, etc.).  But I
haven't read the study.

As Jennifer stated, I wondered if the researchers considered that consumers may combine trips (for example, drop off their old meds when they visit
the retail pharmacy to make a purchase).  And if they considered the risks associated with people or animals rifling through the trash.

I'm not a scientist, but it seems like the jury is still out on the fate of pharmaceuticals when they're placed in a landfill & the environmental

There's also an interesting statement in the NPR story:
"But Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman, says collection programs bring in people who otherwise might never have disposed of their old drugs. 'People
brought medicines to our [April] take-back that had been sitting in drawers, I kid you not, for 40 years,' she says."

From:	"Volkman, Jennifer (MPCA)" <jennifer.volkman at state.mn.us>
To:	"pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us" <pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us>
Date:	05/18/2012 12:55 PM
Subject:	RE: [Pharmwaste] FW: OH MY - For Medication Disposal, New Advice Is	Trash BeatsTake-Back
Sent by:	pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us

Discussion is good.
I don't know if it has been peer-reviewed and whether they took into account everything we've all looked at. If collection is at a pharmacy that
someone is going to already to pick up refills or other items, I don't see how the emissions factor in there. Most law enforcement collection points
are located in population centers that people travel to as well. I could see that some people might just make one direct trip, but most people run a
string of errands and naturally plan out a route that wouldn't seem to add significantly to emissions.

Growing up outside a small town, there were times where you went to town for a carton of milk if you really needed it, but generally we'd go to the
store, post office, gas station, bakery, pharmacy and, hopefully, the Dairy Queen. Still do, even though I'm in a larger town.

If law enforcement and pharmacies are already properly managing their waste or confiscated drugs, the amounts collected by take back just add to the
outbound shipment already going for incineration.

But I do always appreciate a study that looks at the carbon footprint, so I'm looking forward to reading the details.

From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us [pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] on behalf of Fredrick L. Miller [millerfl at tricity.wsu.edu]
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 12:48 PM
To: pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Subject: RE: [Pharmwaste] FW: OH MY - For Medication Disposal, New Advice Is Trash BeatsTake-Back

Sorry for using the wrong address, Laurie.  I’ll try to keep it straight in the future.

I realize my position isn’t plain vanilla and may draw a little push-back.  I take sole responsibility for it and ask that any who have strong
feelings about the matter please feel free to contact me via the list or in private.  I don’t take negative or opposing feedback personally or
lightly.  I’ve been known to learn from it when people find holes in my logic or knowledge.  After all, if all we consumed was our own product how
would we learn and grow?


From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us [mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of Tenace, Laurie
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 10:06 AM
To: pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Subject: [Pharmwaste] FW: OH MY - For Medication Disposal, New Advice Is Trash BeatsTake-Back

Please note that Fred Miller’s email did not originate with me – Laurie

Please take a few minutes to share your comments on the service you received from the department by clicking on this link DEP Customer Survey.
      From: Fredrick L. Miller [mailto:millerfl at tricity.wsu.edu]
      Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 12:29 PM
      To: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us
      Subject: RE: OH MY - For Medication Disposal, New Advice Is Trash Beats Take-Back

      As an environmental management practitioner I have no problem with landfilling pharmaceuticals in cells constructed to modern standards.  By the
      time they make their way through the biological and chemical processes going on in the landfill itself and the leachate collection/treatment
      system it’s at least as well degraded as in many of the thermal treatment options (waste to energy and other non-RCRA permitted burners).  The
      UM study is a good start at examining the costs, both fiscal and environmental, of take-back programs but its limited scope precludes full
      examination of the problem.  I must say their work is a great start to launching a rational discussion of the problem rather than simply
      continuing down the knee-jerk path to take-back.  Let’s not let the bureaucrats promulgate regulations the normal way but rather use our brains
      and voices to influence the outcome this time ‘round.


      Fred Miller

      From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us [mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of Lotzer Donna M
      Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 8:45 AM
      To: Lotzer Donna M
      Subject: [Pharmwaste] OH MY - For Medication Disposal, New Advice Is Trash Beats Take-Back

      18 May 2012

      Returning extra medicine to the pharmacy for disposal might not be worth the extra time, money or greenhouse gas emissions, according to a
      University of Michigan study that is the first to look at the net effects of so-called take-back programs. The new evidence suggests that
      discarding unused drugs in the trash is a better option to limit the risk of poisoning and at the same time curb pollution of both water and

      To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers compared the total emissions created by take-back, trash and toilet disposal methods. This
      included emissions of pharmaceutical active ingredients as well as releases of other water and air pollutants. "National policy seems to be
      changing to support take-back programs, and we don't know if that's justified," said Sherri Cook, a doctoral student in the U-M Department of
      Civil and Environmental Engineering. Cook is first author of a paper on the findings published in Environmental Science & Technology.

      U.S. households accumulate an estimated 200 million pounds of unused pharmaceuticals every year, the researchers say. In most cases today, the
      FDA recommends throwing them away, but only if you don't have access to a take-back program. Cities, states and even some stores have initiated
      them. From collection sites, the returned drugs are transferred to another facility where they're incinerated as hazardous waste.

      Health officials caution that unused pills should be out of the house as soon as possible to prevent poisoning and drug abuse by other family
      members. But that need must be balanced with pollution control, both for human health and environmental reasons. Flushing unused pills down the
      toilet is no longer advised, as the active ingredients in drugs have been found in drinking water and aquatic environments.

      The new study found:

      *       If half of people threw away unused medications and half took them back to the drug store, the amount of active pharmaceutical
      ingredients in the environment would be reduced by 93 percent compared with today.

      *       If everyone trashed their extra drugs, those amounts would be reduced by 88 percent.
      *       That 5 percent improvement in pharmaceutical emission reduction due to take-back programs would come at a significant cost, possibly
      more than a billion dollars annually, along with a 300 percent increase in other emissions such as greenhouse gases and smog-forming substances.

      "Nobody has ever added up all the emissions associated with disposing of medication," said Steve Skerlos, a professor in the departments of
      Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering and a co-author of the study. "When you look at the available evidence to support
      take-back, it just doesn't add up." The researchers focused on a 50 percent take-back compliance rate based on actual practice in Sweden, which
      has had a national take-back program for 40 years. The compliance rate there is just 43 percent. Drugs that aren't returned tend to stay in the
      medicine cabinet, defeating the goal of getting unused medications out of the home quickly, the researchers say.

      The U-M researchers considered a wide range of factors, including how often people would return medication, how far they live from take-back
      sites, how rainfall might affect landfill leachate leaking into groundwater, and what percentage of residents could be expected to comply. The
      results surprised the team. "We didn't expect that landfilling would be the best option, because when you incinerate something, it's gone, and
      when it's in a landfill, it can remain for some time," said Nancy Love, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and
      a co-author of the study. "However, once we considered all the environmental emissions for the three options, the results made sense."

      The researchers encourage policymakers to focus on getting more people to get rid of medicines by trash, rather than take-back. "Trashing unused
      medications reduces the consumer's inconvenience relative to take-back, and if there is a clear message perhaps we could increase the percentage
      of people putting them in the trash," Cook said. Currently, about 60 percent of people already use trash disposal, while 40 percent of people
      still flush unused medication down the toilet. When discarding pills in the trash, the FDA recommends mixing them with an unpalatable substance
      such as coffee grounds in a plastic bag. This helps to deter would-be abusers from picking them out of the garbage.

      The paper is titled, "Life Cycle Comparison of Environmental Emissions from Three Disposal Options for Unused Pharmaceuticals."

      University of Michigan <http://www.umich.edu/>

      Donna Lotzer, Senior Clinical Pharmacist
      Poison Education Coordinator
      University of WI Hospital & Clinics
      Poison Prevention & Education Center
      600 Highland Avenue, MC # 9475
      Madison, WI 53792
      dlotzer at uwhealth.org
      Phone: 608-265-8160 ---
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