Aug 03, 2011

Oklahoma Narcotics Bureau and Covanta Partner for Drug Take-Back Program

Covanta will dispose of medication in energy-from-waste facility

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) is partnering with the city of Tulsa, Okla., and Covanta WBH, the owner/operator of an energy-from-waste facility in Tulsa, to safely dispose of prescription drugs collected throughout the state. Since March 1, through the Safe Trip for Scripts Program, OBN has distributed nearly 100 permanent drug disposal metal containers for police and sheriff department lobbies for the public to safely dispose of prescription drugs from their homes and medicine cabinets. To date, the agency has collected nearly one ton of expired medication from the disposal containers. OBN spokesman Mark Woodward said that it is critical to get these drugs out of the home.

OBN has developed a partnership agreement with Covanta Energy to safely destroy the drugs collected from the disposal containers. Through their Prescription for Safety Program (Rx4Safety), Covanta provides the safe disposal of medications collected by drug take-back programs free of charge to communities nationwide. Rx4Safety was launched in 2010 as a solution to help communities keep medications out of the nation's waterways and drinking water, as well as to help with the problem of abuse.

The Covanta energy-from-waste facility processes all of the city of Tulsa's municipal solid waste into clean, renewable energy. At the facility, the collected medications will be combusted at high temperatures to ensure their complete destruction.

When flushed down the drain, or disposed of in landfills, medications find their way into waterways and contaminate surface waters. The drugs cannot be removed from water supplies at typical wastewater treatment plants, and the contaminated water can then have negative effects on aquatic organisms, fish and other wildlife.

OBN will enter into a contract with Covanta for this free community service. The city of Tulsa is not providing any funding for this program or incurring any costs associated with it. Tulsa spokesman Eric Lee said he is happy that the energy-from-waste facility in Tulsa can help the entire state of Oklahoma.

OBN will deliver armed escorted shipments to the Covanta Energy facility in Tulsa for the destruction of the drugs. OBN and Covanta staff will monitor every step in the shipment, drop-off and destruction of the materials.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has a list of the disposal container locations on its web site at Woodward said the list will be continually updated as permanent locations are established throughout the summer.