About Empty Pharmaceutical Bottles

ColorBrightonGreen will stop taking pharmaceutical bottles in mid-June, but we wanted to start providing you with more information about why you cannot put them in your curbside recycle bin and what happens to them when you take them to the Monroe County Ecopark.  Here is the story:

Let’s begin with why pill bottles are not acceptable in curbside recycling in Monroe County:
With current collection methods using compaction trucks, most are crushed and not useable. Most containers are so small they will not make it through the sorting system and end up in the trash. Additionally, most containers contain drug residue. When containers are crushed as above, this residue can become airborne and is dangerous to recycling center employees. Lastly, if these containers were to be accepted curbside, the invariable result is that drugs would be left in them – which is dangerous not only for the reasons outlined above, but with current realities regarding prescription drugs, this is an additional proactive step that can be taken to keep drugs out of the hands of people not authorized to have them.

Here’s the ecopark collection side of the story:
There are no good local reuse options for used prescription bottles because they vary greatly in shape and size and are not clean. Sorting of thousands of containers is not practical for the Monroe County Ecopark staff.

Here’s what happens to used prescription bottles that are dropped off at the Monroe County Ecopark:

It has been determined that incineration is the best method for the disposal of the pharmaceutical containers collected at the ecopark. This incineration occurs along with  pharmaceuticals that are collected from across Monroe County at Covanta Niagara facility in Niagara Falls.

From the Covanta Niagara website:
The Niagara Resource Recovery Facility, a pioneer in the modern Energy-from-Waste industry, began converting municipal solid waste into clean, renewable energy in 1980. Today, the facility uses up to 2,250 tons of waste per day as fuel to generate low-cost steam for neighboring industrial customers and electricity for the Western New York region. By providing reliable, low-cost steam to local manufacturers, Covanta Niagara allows industrial customers to remain globally cost-competitive and help retain jobs in the region. In recognition of safety and operational excellence, the facility has been designated an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Facility and achieved the International Standardization Organization’s (ISO) 14001 environmental registration. The facility also recovers ferrous (steel) and non-ferrous (aluminum) metals.

Monroe County takes very seriously its responsibility to recycling, and takes great pains to assure that everything that is collected at the ecopark has a viable end-of-life option.
For an in-depth look at the ecopark, please take a few minutes to view this Ecopark video: