Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

To reduce potential sources of environmental contamination and enhance public safety, the Monroe County Department of Environmental Services manages a pharmaceutical waste collection program. This service is free-of-charge to Monroe County residents. Doctor offices, veterinary offices and pharmacies are not covered under this current program.  

In 2008, Monroe County Department of Environmental Services started the first pharmaceutical waste collection program in New York State. Since that time, over 50,000 residents have participated in the program and over 125,000 pounds of unwanted or unused medications have been collected for proper disposal.  In 2009 Monroe County was honored with the NYSDEC’s Environmental Excellence award, recognizing the pharmaceutical waste collection program's commitment to provide residents with a safe and proper way to dispose of medications.

How can you properly dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste?

The ecopark and local police stations accept pharmaceutical waste at the regularly scheduled times and locations listed here, where you will also find a list acceptable pharmaceutical items. Pharmaceuticals include, but are not limited to, prescription and over-the-counter medications, veterinary medications and nutritional supplements.  Monroe County also holds collections three times per year at selected Wegmans pharmacies.

Never Flush or Dispose of Unwanted Medications in the Trash

Why is pharmaceutical waste an issue?

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that pharmaceuticals such as steroids, prescription and nonprescription medications, antibiotics and hormones, have been detected in the nation’s streams, rivers and lakes. Studies have shown that pharmaceuticals are present in water bodies around the US but more research is needed to determine the extent of ecological harm and the impact that it may have on human health. Although the concentrations are low, their effect could be potentially harmful to aquatic and human life.
 

Why is flushing medications bad for the environment?

In the past, flushing down the drain was considered a proper way to dispose of unwanted medication. Due to increasing awareness, this method is no longer recommended. Medications flushed down the drain can contaminate our water bodies and have adverse effects on our environment. Wastewater treatment facilities are not currently designed to remove these contaminants from their effluent (wastewater discharged after treatment).

Why is throwing medications in the trash bad for the environment?

Throwing medications in the trash is also discouraged. It can lead to accidental swallowing by children or pets or could lead to misuse and or abuse. When disposed of in the trash, these chemicals can contaminate the leachate (water that comes in contact with trash) from the landfill.

This collection program has been made possible by the following organizations:

  • Monroe County Department of Environmental Services
  • Monroe County Sheriff's Office
  • New York State Police
  • New York State Department of Health
  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Covanta Niagara
  • Monroe County Water Authority
  • Center for Environmental Information

For More Information

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