News release from NRCM and the Product Stewardship Institute
June 11, 2021 (Augusta, ME) — Mainers will be able to dispose of unused medications safely and for free under a bill signed into law by Governor Janet Mills. LD 8, sponsored by Senator Anne Carney and championed by former Senator Geoffrey Gratwick, will establish a network of drug-collection kiosks and prepaid mail-back envelopes at pharmacies throughout Maine, which will supplement existing drug take-back events and police station drop-off sites.
“Passage of LD 8 greatly improves Maine’s ability to prevent improper disposal of unwanted drugs,” said Senator Anne Carney. “The safe, convenient Extended Producer Responsibility program for disposing of unwanted drugs at the pharmacy will keep unwanted drugs from contributing to substance use disorder and from contaminating our water supply. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House and Senate for supporting this important public health and environmental protection legislation.”
“Maine has long championed Extended Producer Responsibility laws like this one that have proven effective at reducing waste and protecting Maine’s environment,” said Sarah Nichols, Sustainable Maine Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The new drug take-back program will decrease the risk of accidental poisoning and drug overdoses by preventing unused medications, like opioids, from accumulating in homes and getting into the wrong hands. It also has environmental benefits, offering a safer alternative to landfilling or flushing of unwanted drugs into our rivers and streams.”
Since 2012, six U.S. states and 23 cities and counties have established producer-funded drug takeback programs. The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), a national nonprofit, paved the way for the passage of these drug take-back laws by leading an effort that changed the federal Controlled Substances Act and Drug Enforcement Administration regulations to allow convenient pharmacy collections.
“Passage of this law will alleviate a substantial financial and management burden from taxpayers and local governments,” said Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of PSI. “It will also place the primary responsibility for drug take-back with the drug companies while encouraging retail pharmacies to offer a valuable community service.”
Maine has already established successful producer-funded and managed stewardship programs for seven other difficult-to-manage waste types including: electronic waste like computers, unused paints, old mercury thermostats, mercury-containing auto switches, lamps that contain mercury, cell phones, and rechargeable batteries.
The Maine House and Senate are soon expected to vote on an Extended Producer Responsibility bill (LD 1541) that would ask manufacturers to help manage packaging waste to save taxpayer money and improve recycling by bringing relief to municipalities that are struggling with rising costs for recycling and waste disposal. The bill received bipartisan majority support from the Legislature’s Environment & Natural Resources Committee.