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Rx for Action

A blog devoted to helping people find local medicine take-back programs and highlighting current research findings and pending legislation.

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U.S. EPA releases disposal recommendations for medicine take-back programs

Unwanted medication that comes from households is not regulated as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The exemption from RCRA applies even when the medications are collected at a single-day take-back event, such as the recent DEA sponsored event, or at a permanent medicine collection program. However, the collected medications still need to be disposed of responsibly.
The U.S. EPA has historically recommended that pharmaceuticals collected from households should be incinerated as hazardous waste. Their recently released recommendations reaffirm the EPA's position that collected medication be incinerated to address both environmental and diversion concerns.
EPA recommends that take-back events/programs destroy the medications at a:
  • RCRA-permitted hazardous waste incinerator
  • RCRA-permitted cement kiln
When using a RCRA-permitted facility is not feasible, they recommend incineration at a:
  • Large municipal waste combustor
  • Small municipal waste combustor
They do not recommend the following types of incineration:
  • Other Solid Waste Incinerators (OSWI). Medicine collected at take-back events/programs are not considered by the U.S. EPA to be "contraband or prohibited goods" and so no exclusion from OSWI regulations applies.
  • Crematoriums. These units are not regulated under Clean Air Act regulations and are not recommended.

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Posted by Laura Kammin at 1:20PM on 10/5/2012
Categories: Collection Programs In the News