Pharmaceuticals – including prescription and over-the-counter drugs – can lengthen and improve our quality of life. But when leftover or expired drugs are thrown in the trash, in the toilet, or down the drain, they end up in landfills, sewage systems, or wastewater treatment facilities that are not equipped to remove them. From there, they enter our waterways, where they threaten wildlife and the quality of our drinking water sources.

When stored in the home long term, they can fall into the wrong hands – leading to drug abuse, misuse, or accidental poisonings and contributing to the U.S. prescription drug abuse epidemic. In fact, seven out of 10 people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends and family, often from medicine cabinets.

Drug “take-back” programs that let people conveniently drop off unused drugs for safe disposal are a key strategy to help prevent these problems. But to be effective, these programs must be sustainably funded and available to consumers year-round. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws require drug companies to pay for and manage drug take-back programs.