[Pharmwaste] Following up on Trash Disposal study discussion

Volkman, Jennifer (MPCA) jennifer.volkman at state.mn.us
Fri May 18 17:19:30 EDT 2012


What have we learned from collecting data on unused medications? Mainly that far too many are being wasted. You've all seen the numbers based on pill counts from various collector studies: millions of doses with a significant economic impact on everyone who lives in this country. What would we have learned if we had instructed everyone to trash unused medications: nothing. No pill counts, no data that certain types of medications are wasted more than others, which led to Maine's legislation limiting first time prescriptions, and the introduction of similar federal legislation. 

We've all become aware of the huge growth in pharmaceutical abuse, the high number of poisonings and death compared with other potential sources of poisoning within households. Collectors have educated everyone they can get to on these dangers. It is how we motivate them to clean our their cabinets. The brochure MN SMARxT Disposal is sending around the state does not mention drug abuse or poisoning or include information on safe storage: just trash it.

Put a value on the information we've all given out and gained from collecting the waste resulting from what is advertised in every media: miracle cures, treatments with as much chance of making you miserable as well. I have not seen any mention of safe storage, reduce your stash or anything of that sort in the 2 page ads in magazines.

If I was in the business of selling pharmaceuticals, I would want all of these wasted medications out of sight and out of mind: trashed. OR, I'd want to collect them all myself and get them to the nearest incinerator ASAP.

Do we have enough data to push this back up stream? I think many of us are already weary of the collection game. The challenges of collection have been huge, but the problem of reduction and prevention is wicked.

The study likely gave no value to the HUGE value of raising awareness or the data collected by these programs to help push waste reduction. 

NPR, call me, I have a more interesting story for you. 
________________________________________
From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us [pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] on behalf of Nancy  Busen [NBusen at bentonvillear.com]
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 3:19 PM
To: 'David Stitzhal'; pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Subject: RE: [Pharmwaste] Following up on Trash Disposal study discussion

I wonder what effect removing multiple ads for pharmaceuticals would have on the issue..... Seems to me we are attacking the tail of the dragon instead of the head. I'm betting it would reduce the amount of discarded prescriptions by half.

 Nancy Busen
City of Bentonville, Wastewater
Lab/Pretreatment supervisor
1901 N.E. "A" Street
Bentonville, AR 72712
479-271-3160
FAX: 479-271-3163
nbusen at bentonvillear.com

Forget that this task of planet saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.  ....Paul Hawkins

-----Original Message-----
From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us [mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of David Stitzhal
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 3:08 PM
To: pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Subject: [Pharmwaste] Following up on Trash Disposal study discussion



Great discussion re. the recent Michigan report on trash disposal.

I want to also emphasize the importance of keeping our eyes on the
producer responsibility aspect of this public health challenge.
Certainly if the take-back with incineration approach could be
definitively shown to be considerably more environmentally harmful
than trash disposal, then we would want to consider the landfill-only
approach.  However, given the limits of life-cycle assessment, that
is unlikely to be the case.  (And we still need to answer important
questions about this study, such as those raised already on this
forum re. number of trips, trip-chaining, etc.).

But the point I want to raise has to do with who should be paying for
whatever management approach we take.  The world, and slowly the US,
is moving toward a producer responsibility approach for financing and
managing our daily discards.  The cost of end-of-life impacts should
be placed in the producer-consumer relationship, not in the govt.-
taxpayer relationship.

So, with overall environmental impact being equal  between
landfilling and take-back  -- and I suspect that even if the MI study
proves to be robust, landfilling won't come out way ahead of
take-back and incineration -- take-back programs in which the bill
goes to the pharmaceutical manufacturers is the way to go  (for
public health, environmental health, and public safety reasons).

However, even if we do end up with an all-landfilling solution, we
still need to find a way to shift the costs of that approach to the
producers.  What does it cost to have a modern landfill that captures
pharmaceuticals (some of which are RCRA listed hazardous waste)?
What does it cost to capture leachate and send it to sewage
treatment? What does it cost to capture meds at sewage treatment
plants?  What does it cost to have inter-sex fish due to the meds we
don't capture in treatment? What does it cost when we send bio-active
drug constituents in the sewage sludge to be land-applied on our food
crops?  What does it cost to research whether those crops deliver
meds to our bodies?  Perhaps those costs should be borne by producers
as well before they can bring product to market.

Some ruminations.

Thanks.

Stitzhal
--
David Stitzhal, MRP
President
Full Circle Environmental, Inc.
3111 37th Place South
Seattle, WA 98144
U.S.A.
206-723-0528 phone
206-723-2452 fax
stitzhal at fullcircleenvironmental.com
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