Program Diverts Expired, Unused Medicine from Landfills, Water Supply
WASHINGTON — Veterans will be able to safely dispose of expired and unused prescriptions and help the environment at the same time under a program offered by the U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
This pilot program is limited to an estimated 780,000 veterans living in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and West Virginia. Veterans mail back outdated, unwanted medicine. Federally approved facilities safely destroy the medicine, insuring that prescriptions don’t end up in municipal refuse, soil or ground water.
“This initiative pairs the convenience of the mail with the safety of a federally approved prescription drug disposal process,” said Robert Bernstock, president, Mailing and Shipping Services. “The Prescription Mail Back program demonstrates the Postal Service’s continued value as an integral part of American communities.”
Veterans receive specially designed, postage-paid envelopes and instructions with their prescription fulfillment. Expired and unused pharmaceuticals placed in the special packaging can be dropped in familiar blue USPS collection boxes or at Post Offices. The envelopes are delivered to facilities regulated and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Pharmaceuticals from this and other similar mail-back initiatives are destroyed in accordance with EPA and DEA standards, including cataloguing and use of incineration, chemical or thermal processes.
The prescription mail-back initiative began in the state of Maine in 2008, and has been successfully expanding ever since. The VA program joins similar ones in 47 states. Mail-back envelopes are being distributed at supermarket pharmacies, in doctors and dentists offices, and at medical facilities including hospitals, clinics and hospices.
“The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to tell Americans the good news about the expanded prescription mail-back program,” said Sam Pulcrano, vice president, Sustainability. “It is another way the Postal Service demonstrates its commitment to the environment.”
The Postal Service has won more than 75 environmental awards, including 40 White House Closing the Circle, 10 Environmental Protection Agency WasteWise Partner of the Year, Climate Action Champion, Direct Marketing Association Green Echo, and the Postal Technology International Environmental Achievement of the Year, 2009.
For more information about the Postal Service green initiatives, tools and products, visit usps.com/green.