The Return of Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project removes about 400 tonnes of pharmaceuticals from the Australian waste system each year ensuring protection for the public and environment. There are no figures that I can find but I guess a substantial amount is also discarded in the rubbish.
Some time ago I wrote about the major differences between the USA and Australian in the way they handle pharmaceutical waste.
The main difference is that in Australia consumers can return medicines TO ANY PHARMACY – ANYTIME
At the time of writing this post the Australian population clocked in at 22,018,292 people and the USA had 307,708,421 people.
Now bear with me as I fly by the seat of my pants on the back of an envelope and make some huge assumptions. Assumptions like both countries are prescribed the same number and collect the same number of prescriptions per head.
If we accept this it means the USA has roughly 5590 tonnes of pharmaceuticals being disposed each year, following the FDA recommendations. Using local collection services if they exist otherwise flushing controlled drugs down the toilet and the rest in the rubbish mixed with used kitty litter!
For my American readers that is about 6161 tons (US). This is the equivalent of 199 full semi trailers (semi-tractors) of pharmaceutical waste each year.
No wonder there are worries about water contamination by pharmaceuticals in the United States.
In the USA a loaded semi trailer (semi tractor weight)can weigh up to 80 000 pounds. Lets say each semi trailer weighs 18000 pounds. With each truck carrying 62000 lbs it requires the equivalent of 199 semi trailers (semi tractors) to remove the 6161 tons of waste. If they were still in their packaging it would be at least twice that number of trucks.
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