April 29, 2010 - The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced Wednesday, April 28 that the Knox-Area Medication Collection Program has received a Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for its role in keeping medication out of local waters and landfills, and for making the community a safer place by collecting expired and unwanted prescriptions.
|L-R: Al Iannacone, Knox Co. Health Department; Drew Thurman, Knox Co. Solid Waste; Mark Penland, TDEC; John Homa, City of Knoxville Solid Waste; Stephanie Yokley, UT College of Pharmacy; and Officer Craig McNew, KPD.
According to TDEC’s website, the Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards are the most prestigious environmental and conservation awards in the state. These awards are intended to bring awareness to environmental issues and recognize those in the community who have made outstanding contributions to the natural resource welfare of the state.
The program began in 2008 after a request from TDEC to create a pilot program for unwanted medication collection.
The Knox County and City of Knoxville Solid Waste Departments, the Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Health Department and the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy responded by working together to develop what has been a highly successful collections program.
Since the program began in 2008, over 1,000 lbs of medication have been collected through a combination of unwanted medicine collection events and the installation of a permanent drop box at the KPD’s downtown station. The program has become a model for other municipalities in the state of Tennessee, several of which will be directly modeling the successes achieved by the Knox-Area Medication Collection Program to set-up their own localized programs.
The medication collection task force is made up of representatives from Knox County Solid Waste, City of Knoxville Solid Waste, Knox County Health Department, Knoxville Police Department- Property Management Unit, University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, University of Tennessee research institutes, Hallsdale-Powell Utility District and Knoxville Utilities Board.
The group intends to continue, and expand, its efforts aimed at keeping these pharmaceutical and over the counter products from getting into the water supply – or into the hands of children – and to make sure they are disposed of in a safe, environmentally-friendly manner.
“We’re excited about winning the award. But we also want residents to realize that 1,000 pounds is just a tiny fraction of the amount of medications out there in the community that are expired, or no longer needed, and that can pose a health hazard to individuals as well as the environment,” said John Homa, with the city’s Solid Waste Office. “The task force is looking forward to continuing to hold collection events and help educate people on how to properly dispose of these medications.”
For more information and details on the Knox-Area Medication Collection Program visit www.knoxcounty.org/solid_waste/medication_collection.php or go to www.cityofknoxville.org/solidwaste/meds.asp.