Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions



For immediate release:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
For more information contact:
James Regan, Covanta Energy Media Relations, 862-345-5216, jregan@CovantaEnergy.com


Receive the ‘A Million Thanks’ Award from Covanta Energy on the Occasion of Destroying One Million Pounds of Prescription Medications Nationwide

Smithtown, NY, October 23, 2013 – Covanta Energy, a world leader in sustainable waste management and renewable energy, is honoring Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment (CCE) and the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) in commemoration of the milestone attainment of the successful destruction of one million pounds of unwanted prescription medication. Both honorees have partnered closely with Covanta Energy and their nationally recognized Prescription for Safety Program (Rx4Safety™) to achieve this milestone and are being recognized for exceptional leadership in protecting local residents and the environment from the improper disposal of drugs. 

Suffolk County’s Operation Medicine Cabinet enables residents to drop off unwanted, unused, or expired medications at a safe and secure location. Receptacles are located inside each of Suffolk’s seven police precincts. The initiative allows residents to use the receptacles anonymously, and its long-term objectives are to decrease accidental poisonings and abuse in addition to protecting drinking and surface waters.

“Operation Medicine Cabinet has successfully collected over 14,000 pounds of unwanted drugs and medications since August 2010. All seven Suffolk County precincts are equipped with drug receptacles that are available to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This program has enabled Suffolk County residents to dispose of unwanted or expired medications that would invariably been deposited in our landfills and drinking water,” said Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment has worked tirelessly to protect Long Island’s drinking water and has campaigned for the proper disposal medications. In 2013, CCE issued a report which found that 51% of Suffolk County hospitals, long-term care facilities and nursing homes were still flushing expired and unused controlled substances. The report was the first comprehensive look at drug disposal methods in Suffolk County.

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment stated, “Preventing drug abuse, protecting our environment and safeguarding our public health is a great campaign that benefits us all. Covanta has partnered with municipalities throughout the Nation to make it safe, easy, and affordable to properly dispose of unused pharmaceuticals. Drugs should only be prescribed from our doctor, not come from our tap. The more safe disposal options available, the less drugs will end up contaminating our waters or in the hands of those battling drug addictions.”

Prescription drug related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and drug overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in over half of U.S. states. Programs like Suffolk County’s Operation Medicine Cabinet are addressing this epidemic by providing a way to safely collect unwanted medications. Once collected, the drugs are in turn properly destroyed via Covanta’s Rx4Safety program and turned into safe and clean energy at Covanta Energy’s Huntington energy-from-waste facility, free of charge. This ensures unwanted prescription drugs are kept off of the streets and out of drinking water.

“Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in the U.S. and the Rx4Safety program provides people with a safe and environmentally-sound way to dispose of unwanted prescription medications, keeping them out of the hands of potential drug abusers,” said John G. Waffenschmidt, Covanta Energy vice president of environmental science and community affairs. “Thanks to the efforts of leaders like Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment and the Suffolk County Police Department, we have reached this major milestone, protecting both people and the environment from the improper disposal of drugs.”

When flushed down the drain or disposed of in landfills, medications enter waterways and contaminate surface waters, having an adverse effect on our drinking water and the environment. In addition, unused medication in the household may contribute to the growing rates of prescription drug abuse among Americans, particularly teenagers. The Rx4Safety program provides people across the country with a way to safely dispose of unwanted drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, veterinary medications and nutritional supplements, at no cost to the tax payer, through collaboration with local municipalities to organize free drop-off events. Once collected, the drugs are properly destroyed free of charge via Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste process and turned into clean, safe energy at a Covanta Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facility, ensuring unwanted prescription drugs are kept off of the streets and out of drinking water. These facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art combustion controls and air pollution control equipment to ensure environmentally sound destruction.

For more information, please visit www.covantaenergy.com/Rx4Safety

About the Prescription for Safety Program (Rx4Safety)
Covanta’s Rx4Safety program assists groups holding drug take-back events with environmentally sound disposal of prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, veterinary medications and nutritional supplements using the Energy-from-Waste process to protect our water supply, while creating clean electricity in the process.

Municipalities interested in participating in Covanta’s program must obtain appropriate regulatory approvals to ensure that such wastes are not classified as hazardous waste from a federal, state, or local perspective. Each prospective program is subject to a due diligence review by Covanta Energy.

About Covanta

  • Covanta is a world leader in sustainable waste management and renewable energy. The Company’s 45 Energy-from-Waste facilities provide communities and businesses around the world with an environmentally sound solution to their solid waste disposal needs by using waste to generate clean, renewable energy. Annually, Covanta’s modern Energy-from-Waste facilities safely and securely convert approximately 20 million tons of waste into clean, renewable electricity to power one million homes and recycle over 430,000 tons of metal. Energy-from-Waste facilities reduce greenhouse gases, complement recycling and are a critical component to sustainable solid waste management. For more information, visit www.covantaenergy.com.


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

updated by amcclelland  10/24/13