Stericycle, a provider of compliance-based solutions, including award-winning solutions for safe medication disposal, and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), a nonprofit network focused on improving water quality for rural and small communities across the U.S., have partnered to pilot a program focused on improving water quality and combating the opioid crisis in rural America.
In early 2020, RCAP will be distributing 10,000 of Stericycle's Seal&Send medication mail-back envelopes to rural communities in multiple regions across the United States. The envelopes can be used to safely and sustainably remove leftover medications from home medicine cabinets and the environment. The program allows people to mail back their unused drugs for destruction and disposal by regulated medical waste incineration, thus removing potentially harmful pharmaceuticals from water systems and sources and landfills in these communities.
"The strength of our network is relationships with communities," said RCAP CEO Nathan Ohle in a statement. "We are founded on the belief that partnerships make our work and impact better, and this is the perfect example of finding innovative partnerships that benefit the communities we serve."
This first-of-its kind pilot will include an innovative approach to reaching and connecting with rural communities on the issue of safe drug disposal. RCAP will be working with six regional partners to distribute Stericycle's Seal&Send envelopes, along with educational information about safe drug disposal, in water utility bills or other solid waste programs they are coordinating in these communities. RCAP regional partners are located in all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and are launching this pilot to assess the viability of expanding this program across the country.
"From leftover prescription drugs in the home fueling the opioid crisis to pharmaceutical contamination of waterways and drinking water, safe medication disposal is critical to protect people, the public and the planet," said Stericycle CEO Cindy Miller in a statement. "We are proud to partner with and support the important work that RCAP is doing to protect rural communities from the negative impacts of improper medication management in the home."
"Our mission at RCAP is to serve rural communities in addressing whatever issues they might face," added Ohle. "Our work focuses on assisting communities in providing safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater services, and we know the harmful effects that prescription drugs can have on water sources and systems. This innovative approach is a small way to combat a powerful issue confronting communities across the country, and by partnering with Stericycle through their Seal&Send solution, we can help communities protect water systems and sources while also preventing opioid abuse in the home."
If the pilot is successful, RCAP said it will work with Stericycle, grant funders and regional partners to expand this water protection program to all 50 states across the U.S.