The permanent prescription takeback boxes provide a safe place for the disposal of unused and expired prescription and over the counter drugs. Items collected in the boxes are transported and disposed of in a safe, secure, and environmentally compliant manner. Proper disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications prevents these medications from getting into the hands of children and into the state’s waterways. In this partnership, TDEC’s OPSP assists in identifying potential locations of permanent takeback boxes and delivering the boxes, an effort underwritten in part by funding from the Division of Solid Waste Management to purchase the permanent boxes and fiber containers for the incineration process. External partners include the U.S. Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Agency, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Tennessee Department of Military, and Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
How was the Project Started?
The Unwanted Pharmaceutical Takeback Program was launched as a pilot between TDEC and the Knoxville Police Department in 2011. The following year, Tennessee received funding to expand the program state-wide. TDEC, through the Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices, initially provided permanent prescription drug takeback boxes to law enforcement facilities. As the program grew, OPSP began providing education regarding the safe disposal of collected items to citizens as well as law enforcement officials and permanent takeback boxes have been placed at hundreds of law enforcement facilities statewide.
When was the Project Started?
The project officially launched in 2011.
When was the Project Completed, or is it Ongoing?
The project is ongoing.
What are the Results to Date?
All 95 counties in the State participate in the permanent prescription drug collection program, resulting in reduced access to prescription drugs for nonmedical use and reduced environmental impact from improperly disposed medications. Beneficial outcomes from the program which are hard to measure are reduction of illicit drug use, unintentional poisoning, and water pollution along with improved water quality. Quantitative results include; 334 permanent collection sites (244 law enforcement locations and 91 pharmacies), and pounds collected totals of 2012 – 15,905.91 lbs; 2013 – 23,465.13 lbs; 2014 – 22,057.96 lbs; 2015 – 56,179.48 lbs; 2016 – 82,713.04 lbs; 2017 – 85,506.02 lbs; and 2018 – 85,899.61 lbs.
What are the Resources Needed, including Time, Cost, Etc.?
The resources expended internally within TDEC – OPSP on coordinating and managing this program are roughly $50,000 in salary and overhead for 50% of Program Manager’s time as well as additional Admin staff time and travel. Costs for total program are challenging to calculate given the way in which cost is shared amongst, TBI, Dept. of Health, and the other state agencies involved.
- Kathy Glapa
- Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation – Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices
- Program Manager