DEA Has Incinerated Over 5,000 Tons Of Drugs From Take-Back Days

By Kelly Burch 11/01/19

This year, for the first time, the DEA collected vaping-related products and cartridges as well.

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prescription drugs from take-back days
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This week hundred of tons of unneeded prescription drugs were collected across the country as part of national prescription drug take-back day. Many of the drugs were headed for incinerators, one of the only ways to safety dispose of them. 

Collecting Vape Products For The First Time

Since drug take-back days began in 2010, more than 5,000 tons of prescription drugs have been collected and safely disposed of. The day is designed to reduce the risk of misuse of prescription drugs, including opioids, that otherwise would be left in people’s homes or improperly disposed of. 

This year, for the first time, the DEA collected vape-related products and cartridges as well.

“This important event allows the public the opportunity to contribute to the solution and offers a safe way to dispose of expired or unused prescription drugs that can pose a threat to others. Raising awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse is the first step in prevention,” DEA Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge William D. Bodner said in a press release. 

16,000 Pounds Collected In Jersey

In New Jersey, 16,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected this week. Most of them were bound for Covanta Essex, a facility that burns trash in order to produce power for local homes, according to NJTV News.

DEA special agent Tim McMahon told the network, “We collected unused, unwanted and expired prescriptions. We had over 200 police departments across the state that participated in the collection.”

He added, “The whole medicine cabinet is one of the main ways that people are getting their hands on prescriptions to be used not in the intended way that they were meant to be.”

How It Works

Three truckloads of medication were transported by The National Guard to the trash facility. There, the pills were mixed in with other garbage that is burned at more than 2,000 degrees. Incinerating the drugs is the safest way to dispose of them. The Drug Enforcement Agency even has staff on-site to make sure that the pill are entirely destroyed. 

Burning the pills reflects a better understand of how to safety get rid of them, said James Regan, Covanta’s director of corporate communications. 

“So years ago, people were told if you have medications in your home, flush them down the drain, and we found waste water treatment facilities can’t really get those pharmaceuticals and medications out of the water properly. So by bringing it here instead, we’re able to destroy that material and keep it out of the waste water.”

Regan said that nationally, the company has incinerated more than 6 million pounds of prescription medications since 2010, in partnership with drug take-back day. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.