Safe dis­posal

New pro­grams have been launched for med­i­ca­tion and med­i­cal sharps col­lec­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STEWART

It’s now much eas­ier to dis­pose of used nee­dles and pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion in P.E.I.

Com­pa­nies that man­u­fac­ture sharps, such as nee­dles, and pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion will now be pay­ing to sup­ply Is­land phar­ma­cies and house­holds with new and im­proved dis­posal con­tain­ers and to trans­port those con­tain­ers to the proper sites.

A na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion called the Health Prod­ucts Stew­ard­ship As­so­ci­a­tion (HPSA) launched two pro­grams in June – the Is­land Med­i­ca­tions Re­turn Pro­gram and Is­land Sharps Col­lec­tion Pro­gram. HPSA is funded by the health prod­ucts in­dus­tries. Its col­lec­tion pro­grams in­clude pre­scrip­tion drugs, nat­u­ral health prod­ucts, over-the-counter med­i­ca­tions and sharps waste gen­er­ated by the public.

The goal is to pre­vent med­i­ca­tions and sharps from be­ing placed in waste or re­cy­cle bins or be­ing flushed down the toi­let.

Chris McKenna, pres­i­dent of the P.E.I. Phar­ma­cists As­so­ci­a­tion, said 80 per cent of Is­land phar­ma­cies have signed up for the new stew­ard­ship pro­gram.

The other 20 per cent are still us­ing the old con­tain­ers so lack of space for ad­di­tional con­tain­ers is likely an is­sue, McKenna said. Un­der the new pro­gram, phar­ma­cies are given a new larger pale which is clearly la­beled while the public can also pick up a new home stor­age con­tainer that is sim­i­lar in size to the green kitchen com­post bin supplied by Is­land Waste Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion.

Is­lan­ders can pick up and drop off free sharps col­lec­tion con­tain­ers at any one of the 37 par­tic­i­pat­ing phar­ma­cies across the province. For all med­i­ca­tion re­turns, all pills should be emp­tied into a bag or con­tainer and liq­uids, creams and in­halers should be kept in their orig­i­nal pack­ag­ing and re­turned to a par­tic­i­pat­ing phar­macy.

Ginette Vanasse, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of HPSA, says P.E.I. is the sec­ond province in Canada to im­ple­ment such a pro­gram. On­tario also has one. HPSA has been work­ing with other prov­inces for the past five years on the reg­u­la­tory process in­volved with im­ple­ment­ing the pro­grams.

“The fund­ing is now cov­ered by the in­dus­try,’’ Vanasse said Wed­nes­day. “From the public point of view, it’s seam­less. They will only see a dif­fer­ence with the con­tain­ers used for sharps.’’

Gerry Moore, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer with IWMC, is happy ac­tion is be­ing taken to re­duce what goes into the waste and com­post bins.

“The big­gest is­sue with sharps is that we don’t want to see them gen­er­ated in the waste stream,’’ Moore said. “With the na­ture of the com­paction trucks, we don’t want sharps fly­ing around pierc­ing em­ploy­ees or any in­no­cent by­standers pass­ing the truck when the com­pactor is (ac­ti­vated). We want to see peo­ple take them into phar­ma­cies to have them dis­posed of prop­erly.’’

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

Chris McKenna, pres­i­dent of the P.E.I. Phar­ma­cists As­so­ci­a­tion, says new dis­posal con­tain­ers are out now to han­dle sharps, such as nee­dles, and pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion in P.E.I. Is­land phar­ma­cies will re­ceive the large pail while Is­lan­ders can pick up the smaller Take It Back con­tainer for house­hold use. A na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion will han­dle all the costs so the con­tain­ers are free.

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