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Covanta Environmental to Take on Phase Two of N.Y.’s Pharmaceutical Take-back Program

pharmaceutical waste
More than 14,670 pounds of expired medication have been destroyed since May 2018.

Covanta Environmental Solutions has been awarded a contract from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for phase two of its Pharmaceutical Take-Back Pilot Program.

As part of the pilot program's initial launch in 2017, Covanta Environmental Solutions installed 250 collection boxes together with New York State at participating retail pharmacies, long-term healthcare facilities and hospitals providing citizens a secure and convenient place to dispose of their expired and unused medications.

Phase two builds upon the success of the original scope of the Pharmaceutical Take-Back Pilot program by offering kiosks at 230 additional locations.

Covanta Environmental Solutions is responsible for the collection of the material from the kiosks from the participating locations and transport to its parent company's energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities. Covanta's EfW facilities are suited for this initiative as they have a long history of handling the safe and secure destruction of pharmaceuticals regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Since 2010, Covanta said it has sustainably destroyed more than 5 million pounds of unused and expired medications, this in addition to the more than 14,670 pounds that have been disposed of to date in phase one of the pilot program. Phase one and two of the pilot program will each cover a two-year period.  

"We are pleased to continue this meaningful partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to provide people from across New York State with a safe and reliable way to dispose of their old and unused medications," said Paul Stauder, president of Covanta Environmental Solutions, in a statement.

The New York State DEC's decision to extend the Pharmaceutical Take-Back Pilot Program to a second phase demonstrates the urgency required in addressing mounting demand for an effective method of ensuring the destruction of these medications. The collection kiosks deliver an elevated convenience factor for community members' disposal efforts, while expediting the removal of leftover medications from household medicine cabinets and ensuring their safe and proper disposal.

Properly disposing of medication is an important step in preventing drugs from falling into the hands of unauthorized users, including children and teens. In addition, disposing of these materials through the EfW process eliminates dangers to water sources and the environment that arise when they are flushed down the drain or improperly disposed of in landfills. 

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