Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions



For immediate release:
Thursday, April 25, 2013
For more information contact:
Adrienne Esposito, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, 516-390-7150, 631-384-1378 (mobile), aesposito@citizenscampaign.org
James Regan, Covanta Energy, 862-345-5216 (mobile), jregan@covantaenergy.com


West Babylon, NY— Environmentalists, corporations, law enforcement and elected leaders joined together to urge residents and health care facilities to safely dispose of unwanted pharmaceutical drugs. The national drug take-back day will set up 50 Sites across Long Island to collect unwanted medications and pharmaceuticals. The drugs will then be safely disposed of at the Covanta Energy-from-Waste facilities.

Whether flushed down the toilet, washed down the sink or thrown into the garbage, medications contaminate surface and groundwater supplies. Wastewater treatment plants are incapable of filtering out pharmaceuticals, passing it along to communities in their drinking water. Medications that wind up in landfills can also leach into groundwater.

“Earth Day is more than just planting a tree—it’s protecting our drinking water and marine environment by developing sustainable practices. Properly disposing unwanted drugs is a critical part of this effort. With over 50 locations, it’s easy for residents and health care facilities to safely dispose of unused or expired pharmaceutical drugs. Dispersing oxycotin, antibiotics, and valium should be left to doctors, not to the water company,” stated Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The rate of prescription drug abuse is also growing at an alarming rate. According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, the average age when children start abusing prescription drugs is 12. Prescription drug overdoses now kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined.

“Covanta is very proud to provide a program for the safe disposal of drugs allowing us to both assist in the prevention of drug abuse and in the protection of our waters. We are also happy to join with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment in their important work to end the practice of flushing drugs by residents and institutions. Our Energy-from-Waste facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art combustion controls and air pollution control equipment to ensure the secure destruction of these drugs in an environmentally sound manner," said John G. Waffenschmidt, Covanta Energy vice president of environmental science and community affairs.

"I cannot stress enough the importance of proper disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals. These drugs, if not properly disposed of often times find themselves in the wrong hands, are flushed down the toilet, or sink, or thrown into the garbage which leads to contamination of surface and groundwater supplies. I am proud to partner with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Covanta Energy, and law enforcement officials to stress how important it is to properly disposals these pharmaceutical drugs," said Senator Lee Zeldin (R, C, I- Shirley).

“Prescription drug abuse is growing at an alarming rate. By collecting and properly disposing of household drugs, we can help to keep them out of the wrong hands. Doing so also keeps harmful materials from potentially damaging our water supply. I applaud Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Covanta Energy for providing free, safe destruction of medications at the West Babylon facility,” stated Senator Phil Boyle.

“Expired, unwanted and unused pharmaceutical drugs require proper disposal in order to prevent unintended environmental harm. Studies have detected widespread drug contamination in water. My legislation will create a pilot program that is modeled after the successful program Suffolk County implemented to keep these contaminants out of our water. This bill, which passed the Assembly unanimously, will establish a demonstration drug disposal program in representative rural, suburban, and urban areas of the State in order to determine whether to spread the program statewide,” said Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation.

“It is so important for the public to cooperate enthusiastically with this very important environmental program. Whether families are disposing of pharmaceuticals at this event or the many collection events hosted by our municipalities and my colleagues, we ask that the public act responsibly and utilize these drop offs. Not only does this protect our drinking water and natural resources, but it also acts to keep medication out of the hands of those who could misuse them,” stated Assemblyman Joseph Saladino.

“I thank the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Covanta Energy for coming together to raise awareness on this vital issue and for providing our residents with a safe manner in which to dispose of their unused medications,” said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. “This is a matter of public health and safety. If not disposed of properly, these dangerous substances could not only fall into the wrong hands but also end up contaminating our ground and drinking water. I urge anyone with medication they are not using to take advantage of the opportunity provided.” 

To find a take-back event near you click here:




Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

Covanta’s four Energy-from-Waste facilities provide Long Island communities with an environmentally superior alternative to landfilling their municipal solid waste, generating clean, renewable energy for more than 100,000 homes and recycling enough metal to build tens of thousands of automobiles annually. For more information, visit www.covantaenergy.com.

updated by mmurphy  4/25/13