Endicott, N.Y. recently held its first collection event for expired pharmaceuticals, and among the drop-offs were a bottle of Cosanyl and a tin can full of Nyquil that dated back to the 1950s and 60s.
The Endicott Sewer Department set up the event to collect unused medication and prevent it from being flushed or put in the garbage. The town did not reveal how much medicine was collected, but all of it was incinerated at the Oswego County Energy Recovery Facility.
“There have been recent studies that have found trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in rivers and streams, and even in some drinking water. So we want to get this out of the water stream and dispose of it in the right way,” said Philip Grayson, the Endicott sewer pretreatment administrator.
Last year, the Associated Press reported that 41 million Americans have traces of pharmaceuticals in their drinking water. Water treatment plants are often unable to remove medications, and it’s an expensive process for those that can.
While there aren’t necessarily environmental impacts of putting pills in the garbage, this can lead to medication theft and abuse as well as identity theft if the bottle has personal information.