Wisconsin Pharmaceutical Waste Take-Back Programs Collect Only Small Amount – Study

Only about 2 percent of pharmaceutical waste in Wisconsin was safely collected through take-back programs in the state in 2011, according to a new report.

The study by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), “Wisconsin Household Pharmaceutical Waste Collection – Challenges and Opportunities,” determined that about 93,500 pounds of household pharmaceuticals were collected. The rest consumers either discarded as waste, flushed down the drain, abused or stored indefinitely, the WDNR said in a news release.

The cost of pharmaceutical take-back programs in Wisconsin for 2011 was about $276,000. However, not all costs were reported, the agency said. WDNR estimated the cost of the programs ranges between $8.05 and $10.07 per pound, or 13 cents to 17 cents per capita. The programs are funded primarily through municipal tax revenues and grants.

WDNR said by comparison, producer-managed programs in Canada and France average $3,50 per pound and 23 cents per pound, respectively.

“As currently operated, pharmaceutical waste collection programs in Wisconsin are not sustainable,” the report states.

WDNR suggested several solutions, such as a network of drop-off locations, better promotion, monitoring of waste generation and collection rates, securing reliable and consistent funding, and adopting regulatory changes to reduce collection and disposal costs.

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