Recycling prescription drugs in Ohio

A New York Times article that appeared in the Sunday, October 11 Plain Dealer included this interesting paragraph:

In some states, prescriptions for noncontrolled substances — those with vastly lower risks for misuse and addiction — are collected and redistributed to those in need. Social services officials in Tulsa, Okla., have about 20 retired doctors who retrieve surplus prescription drugs from dozens of area long-term-care facilities and take them to a pharmacy where they are checked, sorted and donated to low-income residents.

What a wonderful idea, I thought. And why don’t we do that in Ohio?

So I mounted my high horse and wrote four hundred indignant words challenging Ohio to emulate Oklahoma and develop such a program.

Then, just to be safe, I googled “donate unused prescription drugs Ohio,.” and am I ever glad I did. I saved myself one big embarrassment, because Ohio authorized such a program in 2003.

The program authorizes the donation of prescription drugs by only a pharmacy, drug manufacturer, health care facility, or government entity, not by individuals. And the drugs may be dispensed (not sold) by a pharmacy, hospital, or nonprofit clinic to eligible individuals only.

Want to learn more?

  • For general information about the drug repository program, see this page on the Ohio Health Care Association website.
  • For legal specifications for the program, see Section 3715.87 of the Ohio Revised Code.
  • For a history of drug repository programs in Ohio and other states, see this page on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

When my doctor takes me off a prescription, I’m still stuck with the leftovers, but now I don’t feel so bad about it. I understand why I can’t donate them — once the drug leaves the pharmacy, it’s lost its integrity. So I take them to one of our local Lake County drug drop-off sites. (Cuyahoga County has a similar program: see Disposal of Medicine & Needles on the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District’s website.)

Recycling prescription medications: a Zero Waste program that works for Ohio

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Painesville Township’s Nye Road Recyclables Drop-Off Site Closed

Sad but true: On Monday, December 31 at 11:00 a.m., Painesville Township closed the Nye Road recyclables drop-off site.

I drove over there this afternoon. This is what I found:

Painesville Township has closed its Nye Road recyclables drop-off site.

Painesville Township has closed its Nye Road recyclables drop-off site. (Photo credit: Lenore Collins)

The Fire Department’s collection bin for aluminum cans appears to still be available:

The Painesville Township Nye Road Fire Station's collection bin for aluminum cans remains in place.

The Painesville Township Nye Road Fire Station’s collection bin for aluminum cans remains in place. (photo credit: Lenore Collins

Recycling Drop-Off Sites Closed — But What If I Don’t Have Curbside Recycling?

As a comment on a recent post, a reader asked me a question about recycling drop-off sites. She was looking for a site to replace one that Concord Township (correction: Painesville Township — see fourth comment, below) recently closed. I wish I’d been able to give her more help, but what I found was disappointing — with few exceptions, the central Lake County drop-off sites have closed.

Evidently, our local communities expect us all to use curbside recyclables pickup. That’s fine, if you live in single-family housing. But if you live in a condo or apartment, good luck. Unless the condominium association or apartment management provides it, it’s not available.

Mentor's recycling drop-off site: closed

Mentor’s recycling drop-off site: closed (Photo credit: Lenore Collins)

When Mentor offered drop-off recycling at its site on Center Street, I made a point of keeping my recyclables out of  my trash and taking them to the recycling bins. But Mentor closed the site and removed the bins at the end of January 2012.

When I asked my Mentor council rep where I should now take my recyclables, City Manager Ken Filipiak responded with a link to a page showing local government recycling drop-off locations. In trying to answer my reader’s question, I checked these locations. Many, at least in central Lake County, have now been closed.

Mentor's not kidding: the drop-off site is gone, gone, gone.

Mentor’s not kidding: the drop-off site is gone, gone, gone. (Photo credit: Lenore Collins)

Mr. Filipiak also mentioned that local fire stations maintain collection sites for aluminum cans and suggested the use of the Abitibi PaperRetriever bins for recycling newspapers, magazines, etc. That’s nice, but it still leaves us with our recycling bags full of plastic, glass, and other types of paper. If I can’t recycle them, they’re headed for the dumpster, and from there they go to the landfill.

I feel like a second-class citizen. If we don’t want to — or can’t — pay for curbside recycling or we live in multi-family homes and thus can’t get curbside recycling, well, too bad.

It’s not government’s job to do everything for me, but if local government provides a service for one group of its citizens, it should provide similarly for the rest of us. When it comes to recycling, it doesn’t.

How do others see it? Can we have some discussion of this issue? Does your community offer curbside recycling for apartments and condominiums?