A steady stream of people turned up to the Bisbee Community Chorus’s “Shed it-Shred it” fundraiser to dispose of documents, electronics and medications at Ace Hardware in Bisbee on Saturday.
In the kickoff event for Cochise County’s news Medication Disposal Program, about 5 pounds of unneeded medications were dropped off to be incinerated in the newly purchased “drug terminator,” which is basically a beefed up 55 drum on wheels that can destroy prescription drugs without leaving any residue, according to Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office.
Her agency partnered with the Cochise Health and Social Services to launch the program after discovering they were both looking into it independently.
“We joined forces…we realized we had a common goal,” Capas said.
The Sheriff’s office had found during the course of tis roadshow around the county, that many rural residents had no good option to responsibly dispose of unneeded medications, she said. Some faced a long drive and a fee to do it at a pharmacy in another community.
“It is a known fact that the impacts of improper medication disposal into water supplies and trash is becoming an issue nationwide and in counties such as Cochise, with a majority of rural areas with water access through wells, we are facing a significant challenge,” the Sheriff’s office stated in a report on the program. “In addition to the environmental impact that improper medication disposal has, we also have to consider the safety of our youth, and the propensity of the criminal element to have ready access to unwanted medications for any illicit use.”
“It really is a public health issue,” said Ray Falkenberg, public information officer for the county health department. “We think it’s a really great service to be introducing to the community.”
Falkenberg’s department covered the capital costs, totaling less than $10,000, for the incinerator and drop off bins dispersed throughout the county, while the sheriff’s office provides the manpower.
For more information about the ELASTEC Drug Terminator, contact Jeremy Pretzsch, Elastec/American Marine Sales Manager.