County's Pharmaceutical Disposal Program a Win for All
San Mateo County Pharmaceutical Disposal Program
The main goals of the San Mateo County Pharmaceutical Disposal Program are to help avoid unintended use, reduce or prevent recreational pharmaceutical use, and to help stop the continuing contamination of the environment.
The program, which partners with the San Mateo County Police and Sheriffs Association, offers the public a convenient, viable and environmentally friendly alternative to flushing medicines into the wastewater stream or placing them in municipal landfills. Operating year round, the program places disposal receptacles in law enforcement agencies so it can legally accept all pharmaceuticals, including those defined as controlled substances. Each participant secures its own receptacle, monitors usage, and regularly transports the contents to a law enforcement controlled consolidation point, where the transporting officer deposits the collected medicines into another locked container. A licensed hazardous waste disposal company then removes the contents for incineration. Officially launched in September 2006, by the end of March 2008 the program had collected more than 5,950 pounds of discarded pharmaceuticals. This simple yet innovative program has diverted nearly three tons of medicines from San Mateo's solid waste and wastewater streams, and prevented their unintended use by children and seniors.