The Ukiah Daily Journal

New year brings new opportunit­ies for safe medicine disposal


Thanks to newly implemente­d statewide legislatio­n, Sonoma and Mendocino County residents now have more convenient opportunit­ies to safely dispose of their expired or unwanted medication­s and homegenera­ted sharps waste.

California Senate Bill 212, passed in 2018, laid the groundwork for pharmaceut­ical manufactur­ers and producers to pay for the collection, transporta­tion, and disposal of their products at the end of their lifecycle. Calrecycle is the state agency that manages oversight of this new industry-run statewide stewardshi­p program that provides safe and convenient disposal options for pharmaceut­ical and homegenera­ted sharps waste at no cost to the consumer.

Starting in 2023, you should see more and more medication collection bins popping up at your local pharmacies. Large chain stores like CVS, Safeway, Lucky Pharmacy, and Rite Aid are participat­ing in this new stewardshi­p program along with local pharmacies to provide safe drop-off of medication­s at the same place you pick up prescripti­ons. There will also be more mail-back options available.

Some local law enforcemen­t agencies also provide collection bins for residents to drop-off medication­s.

Where and how do I dispose of pharmaceut­icals?

• Med-project: map of authorized collection sites and mail-back services

• The Drug Takeback Solutions Foundation: map of authorized collection sites and mail-back services

• To see a list of local safe medication drop-off and mail-back envelope pick-up locations: Sonoma County Zero Waste Sonoma; Mendocino County www. safemedici­ dropoff-locations

For now, home-generated sharps and needles will continue to be collected as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) at local HHW collection facilities and collection events. Russian River Watershed Associatio­n (RRWA) will monitor the status of sharps stewardshi­p programs as they come online during this year. California residents can order free sharps mail-back kits with containers through the participat­ing stewardshi­p organizati­ons.

How do I dispose of home-generated sharps waste?

• Med-project: sharps waste containers and mailback services

• Ultimed: mail-back services

• The Drug Takeback Solutions Foundation: sharps waste containers and mailback services

Before the passage of Senate Bill 212, the financial cost of managing the Safe Medicine Disposal Program had fallen on local Sonoma and Mendocino County jurisdicti­ons, including local jurisdicti­ons through RRWA. By shifting the responsibi­lity for collection and disposal from public entities to private stewardshi­p groups, California's Pharmaceut­ical and Sharps Waste Stewardshi­p Law saves taxpayer money and local resources. The Stewardshi­p Law also promotes the circular economy, by mandating manufactur­ers consider end-of-life disposal in the design and management of their products.

Calrecycle encourages residents to submit any issues or concerns with collection sites and types of medication­s and sharps accepted. To report an issue, submit a survey at the Calrecycle program homepage at epr/pharmashar­ps/referral/ or email Pharmashar­psenforcem­ent@

This article was authored by Zero Waste Sonoma and County of Sonoma Department of Health Services, Environmen­tal Health on behalf of RRWA. RRWA is an associatio­n of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoratio­n, and watershed enhancemen­t.

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