Throw unused medicine away correctly

unused medicine
Photo credit: Pexels

It was recently ‘Our Water Week’. Various, mostly online, activities were held. All these centred around educating people about everything relating to water.

The Eindhoven City Council made an appeal to its residents to deal correctly with unused medicine. More and more people in the Netherlands are using medicines, reads their Facebook post. Unfortunately, they sometimes flush unused medicines down the toilet and sink.

These end up in the sewers and, eventually, although partially purified, in ditches and rivers. According to, every year, at least 140,000kg of unused medicines end up in surface water. That negatively affects aquatic life.

Adverse effects

Painkillers, for example, can cause tissue damage in fish. Contraceptives can cause hormonal disruption in these animals, including sex changes. Antidepressants can change the behaviour of small crayfish and fish.

It also makes preparing clean, safe drinking water more difficult. Here is what you must do to prevent that.

  • Always bring unused medicines back to the pharmacy or the recycling centre.
  • Place only the strips in boxes.
  • Remove the labels from bottles or tubes. This is to protect your identity.
  • Put needles in a needle container.
  • Due to COVID-19, you have to keep your medical waste in a closed bag at home for 24 hours before disposing of it.

Unused medicines collected via the pharmacy or recycling centre are responsibly processed by the rubbish collectors in special incinerators. The gases released during this process are purified too.

Source: Eindhoven City Council

Translator: Melinda Walraven

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