The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors directed the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Sonoma County Water Agency and the entire Safe Medicine Disposal Collaborative to work on a Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance by the end of 2017. The Sonoma County Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance Collaborative, a sub-group of those agencies currently funding voluntary medicine take back programs, will coordinate with DHS on the development of the Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance. The Collaborative is composed of members from the Russian River Watershed Association, County of Sonoma, Sonoma County Water Agency, Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, and the cities of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and Sebastopol.
The ordinance under consideration could require pharmaceutical companies to develop, implement, and pay for the collection, transportation, and final destruction of the products they manufacture or distribute. The ordinance would be based on the concept of “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR), which makes the product manufacturers financially responsible for the full costs of their products (including disposal).
Under the program, manufacturers would fund the existing county safe medicine disposal program until they developed an expanded medicine collection program. This extended program would make it easier for the public to choose the safest way to dispose of their unwanted medicines. The goals of the ordinance would be to increase public safety and health as well as reduce any harm to the environment.
EPR ordinances ensure that all stages of a consumer product’s life, from design to disposal, do not significantly contribute towards environmental issues such as pollution and waste, or towards human or animal harm. EPR laws place the responsibility on the producers and manufacturers for developing, managing, and funding the full life cycle of their products. Some recognizable examples of existing EPR laws are those for safe disposal of paints, mattresses and products using mercury. The medication EPR ordinance being discussed would focus on, but may not be limited to, unused medications such as hormones, antidepressants, opioids, and antibiotics, over-the-counter medicines such as pain relievers, cold/flu remedies, and antiseptics and veterinary medicines.
EPR Ordinances In Other Areas
Several California counties and cities have passed or are pursuing medication EPR ordinances. Currently, seven California counties (Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Marin, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara) and the cities of San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Capitola have adopted EPR ordinances that mandate manufacturers of both prescription and over-the-counter medication take responsibility for the proper disposal of their products and expand safe medication disposal to residents.
Sonoma County Waste Management Agency is working to make it easier for residents to safely dispose of unwanted medication and needles. To do this in the best possible way, your input is needed. Please fill out this short 3-4 minute survey to let us know which disposal options would work best for you and to share your thoughts on this issue. Your responses will remain anonymous.
For media requests related to the development of the ordinance please contact 707-565-6625.
To learn more about the ordinance please call 707-565-6680.