News & Press: For Immediate Release

Cook County, IL Mandates Largest County Drug Take-Back Program in the U.S.

Friday, October 28, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Suzy Whalen

October 28, 2016

Scott Cassel, PSI - - (617) 236-4822
Suzy Whalen, PSI - (617) 236-8293

Cook County, IL Mandates Largest County Drug Take-Back Program in the U.S.

Newly passed ordinance requires manufacturers to finance safe disposal program for leftover medications

Cook County, IL - This week, Cook County, Illinois adopted an ordinance that is anticipated to provide over five million residents with convenient access to safe drug disposal. The ordinance makes Cook County the largest county in the U.S. to require drug companies to safely dispose of unwanted medications, and adds to the two states, nine counties, and three cities in the U.S. with similar drug take-back laws.

Over $1 billion in leftover drugs are thrown in the trash, flushed, or consigned to medicine cabinets each year. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S., and nearly 70% of people who begin using prescription drugs non-medically get them from a family member or friend, often from medicine cabinets. Drugs left in the home also put seniors, children, and pets at risk for accidental poisoning. When flushed or put in the trash, over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs can contaminate our drinking water and harm aquatic species.

"We applaud Cook County for recognizing that drug companies are responsible for safely managing leftover medicine and that drug take-back is a key element in reducing drug abuse and water quality impacts," said Scott Cassel, chief executive officer of the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), which has promoted drug take-back nationwide for the past decade. "This law should also save money for Cook County governments, which traditionally bear the burden of paying for proper disposal."

PSI worked closely with local governments and other members of the Illinois Product Stewardship Council (IL PSC), including the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, to strengthen the bill.

"Our member mayors felt quite strongly about this bill and, in rare fashion, rallied quickly to voice consensus support for it," said Edith Makra, director of environmental initiatives for the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. "We were therefore enthusiastic about working with PSI to support the bill and strengthen it - and we are elated that it succeeded."

PSI and IL PSC submitted a letter to Chairman Larry Suffredin, the bill sponsor, which expressed support for manufacturer-funded drug take-back while citing two key areas of concern: the need to increase the producer fee to cover the costs of the program and to strengthen a "convenience standard" that promotes consumer access to collection sites.

"We commend the Cook County Board of Supervisors for passing such a critical piece of legislation and are hopeful that the ordinance will create an effective, industry-funded drug take-back program as intended," noted Walter Willis, executive director of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, IL. "We also recognize the need to monitor the implementation of this law in the next few years to ensure that the industry meets its full responsibility for covering program costs."

The final ordinance gives the County Board of Commissioners the flexibility to set a fee that recovers the costs of program implementation. The County Sheriff's office will design and implement the program. The law's convenience standard (1 drop-off site per 150,000 County residents and no less than 5 sites in each of 17 County districts) is less stringent than other laws passed in the country to date. PSI and IL PSC will track program implementation, which is scheduled to begin January 1, 2017, to help Cook County develop the most effective program possible.

"The passage of this ordinance is a vital step forward for the State of Illinois in effectively addressing the impacts of leftover drugs on our communities," said Marta Keane, chair of IL PSC. "We hope this ordinance propels state legislators to pass a law that ensures all residents have access to convenient, safe drug disposal options, and that it paves the way for other municipalities and states around the nation to pursue similar legislation."

Learn more about the Product Stewardship Institute's work on pharmaceuticals on the website, or contact Vivian Fuhrman at (617) 236-4771.



About the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI):

The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) is a national, membership-based nonprofit committed to reducing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of consumer products across their lifecycle with a strong focus on sustainable end-of-life management. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., PSI takes a unique product stewardship approach to solving waste management problems by encouraging product design changes and mediating stakeholder dialogues. With 47 state environmental agency members, along with hundreds of local government members from coast-to-coast, and 110 corporate, business, academic, non-U.S. government, and organizational partners, we work to design, implement, evaluate, strengthen, and promote both legislative and voluntary product stewardship initiatives across North America. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

About the Illinois Product Stewardship Council(IL PSC):
The Illinois Product Stewardship Council (IL PSC) is a coalition of public and private entities including local governments, state governments, businesses, environmental groups, NGOs, solid waste agencies, associations, and individuals in Illinois. The mission of the IL PSC is to shift the product waste management system in Illinois from one focused on government-funded and ratepayer-financed waste diversion to one that relies on producer responsibility in order to reduce public costs, increase opportunities for waste minimization and resource recovery, raise recycling rates, and drive improvements in product design that promote environmental sustainability. As a significant consequence of this evolution, the green jobs sector will continue to grow, offering an increasing number of in-state recycling industry jobs. The Illinois Product Stewardship Council works to integrate the principles of product stewardship into the policy and economic structures of Illinois including the Illinois Solid Waste Management Plan.