There is increasing evidence that the improper disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) may have an adverse affect on human health and the health of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ecosystem.
Members of the Cities Initiative firmly believe in extended producer responsibility, that is, pharmaceutical manufacturers must take full responsibility to ensure the safe collection and disposal of their products. Where appropriate, when municipalities or other agents undertake to help with collection of pharmaceuticals, they must be compensated for the costs incurred.
There is currently no national legislation in the U.S. requiring producer or retailer take-back or other safe PPCP collection and disposal alternatives. In Canada, where such programs are regulated at the provincial level, there has been significant progress with extended producer responsibility. A regulation has existed in British Columbia since 1997 which makes it the producer's responsibility to collect and dispose of pharmaceuticals. In Ontario, a regulation is expected this summer requiring 100% 'producer pay' collection and disposal of pharmaceuticals and other hazardous household wastes. In Quebec, consumers can return pharmaceuticals to their local pharmacies which bear the responsibility and cost of disposing of the products. There is a general movement towards producer responsibility in Quebec but not yet specifically on pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
In the absence of a mandatory collection and disposal program by drug companies, many local governments have voluntarily chosen to take a leadership role to provide consumers with a safe collection option and to better protect their sources of drinking water.