The Malta Independent 20 October 2019, Sunday

From today: expired, unwanted medicines to be deposited in disposing bins in pharmacies

Tuesday, 1 October 2019, 08:16 Last update: about 18 days ago

As from today, expired or unwanted medicines are to be deposited in specialised disposing bins located in pharmacies across Malta and Gozo. This was announced by the Minister for Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change José Herrera during a press conference to launch the next phase of the nationwide ‘Sort It Out’ campaign which will highlight how the correct disposal of dated or redundant medicine is the next step forward for a better and safer environment.

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Medical waste is generated when the medicinal item expires or is no longer needed by the consumer. This type of waste can be dangerous, not only for the persons who handle this waste but also for the environment and therefore this type of waste should be diverted from landfills.

Minister José Herrera said, “With over 60% of Malta’s pharmacies participating, depositing medicinal waste at local pharmacies is a convenient solution which aims to encourage people to do the right thing. It is an effort that benefits everyone and goes a long way to making the waste management process easier, more efficient and less detrimental to the environment.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne said he was very happy with the project because it reflects a wide participation, not just on an inter-ministerial level, but also with government and non-government entities.

“Till now 163 private pharmacies are participating in this project, and I am convinced that there will be more, making the project a success. This is an important system not just with regards the disposal of expired medicines, but also health wise and from the environmentalism point of view,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. He said that antibiotics resistance is currently one big global problem. Irresponsible disposal of expired medicines enhances such problem.

The Deputy Prime Minister concluded by calling for patients to not take more medicine than what is needed, a technological system is being introduced to make sure of this. He said that it is a bad practice to store medicine ‘just in case the need arises’ because once the medicine is being used its validity is limited. He encouraged buyers to make use of this project now that is available in private pharmacies.

Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Rights, Public Cleansing and Support for the Capital City Deo Debattista spoke about the role of the Malta Medicines Authority in innovative science better known as green chemistry. Among various topics it also evaluates the element of how consumers dispose of waste that can be harmful to our health and surroundings, an example of this is medicine. Parliamentary Secretary Debattista explained that the Medicines Authority together with Wasteserv have introduced an advanced, free-of-charge but more secure way of how unused medicines are disposed of. “Consumers will find specialized containers in every pharmacy which are to be used by people who want to dispose of any medications. In this way, to dispose of such waste will be simple just like putting a letter in the mailbox,” he added. He concluded by encouraging the public to cooperate and dispose of medications in these specially designed bins to protect both the environment as well as the community we live in.

Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia said that this initiative is part of a much larger project which benefitted from around €7 million from the Cohesion Fund. This, along with other projects which are being implemented by Wasteserv is a clear sign of a government which is utilising EU funds to make the environment a priority and to overcome the challenge of waste.

Chairman of Wasteserv David Borg said, “By correctly separating waste at source, one will be making a tangible and positive contribution not only to the environment but also safeguarding public health.”

As from Tuesday, Wasteserv will be rolling out an educational campaign aimed at explaining what medicinal items can be recycled and which are to be disposed of in pharmacies. Common items that should be disposed of in the medicinal waste bins located in pharmacies include loose or packaged tablets and capsules, bottled medicines, inhalers and medicinal cream tubes. With regards to cardboard packaging, information leaflets and any plastic caps, cups or spoons included with medicines need to be placed into the grey or green recycling bag. Plastic inhaler casings are to be separated from the canister and recycled, while empty glass medicine bottles should be disposed of with glass waste. On the other hand, empty tablets and capsules packaging, and cosmetic items should go in the black bag. Biohazardous items such as syringes and epipens need to be disposed of in a special sharps container and taken to a Civic Amenity site.

The newly launched Medical Waste Scheme forms part of the project – ‘Encouraging sustainable waste practices in households and beyond’. More information is available at www.Wasteserv malta.com or by calling the freephone number 8007 2200.

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