Marin County Board of Supervisors voted today to approve the first reading of an ordinance that pharmaceutical firms should pay for the safe disposal of old pills and medications.
Unwanted pharmaceutical drugs that are not properly discarded pose serious potential health risks as well as environmental hazard. For example, wastewater treatment is not able to completely remove the complex chemicals in pharmaceuticals flushed down the drain. Consequently, flushing drugs down the drain increases water pollution. The same happens when drugs are thrown in the trash. After they are landfilled, the chemicals leach into the effluent in the landfill. That liquid is often siphoned off and goes through the wastewater treatment process, with the same result as flushing.
The ordinance will require pharmaceutical companies whose drugs are sold in Marin County to submit a stewardship plan within one year that would describe how they would operate a safe disposal program to collect and destroy unwanted drugs and medications. In addition, companies would be required to provide outreach and education to the community on the safe drug disposal.
If adopted, Marin would be joining Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, as well as San Francisco in forcing drug firms to pay for disposal. Read more here.