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Metro, TDEC Launch Prescription Medication Take-Back Program

April 22, 2011

Local police precincts to house collection containers for residents to use

Nashville, TN – National statistics suggest that almost 90 percent of Americans improperly dispose of outdated or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Many simply don’t know that throwing them away with household garbage or flushing them down the toilet or kitchen sink is no longer the preferred way to get rid of them.

Metro and state officials today launched Tennessee’s first comprehensive county-wide medication drug take back initiative to educate residents about how to properly dispose of prescription and OTC medications, and provide a convenient location to do so. The Metro Nashville Pharmaceutical Collection Program also ensures the city’s water supply is protected, while helping to reduce the risk of prescription drug overdose and abuse.

“Public safety and the environment are two major priorities for me, and this program helps Nashville make progress on both,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said. “I am proud to be Mayor of the city with the first and only comprehensive pharmaceutical collection program in Tennessee.”

"Monitoring across the nation has indicated the presence of pharmaceuticals in our surface water and waste water,” added Commissioner Bob Martineau of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). “TDEC is pleased to assist Metro Nashville in establishing a permanent collection of drop-off boxes, offering a safe and viable disposal option to keep drugs out of our water and off the streets."

Mayor Dean and Commissioner Martineau were joined by Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson, Public Works Director Billy Lynch and Metro Water Services Director Scott Potter to announce the new program at the Metro Police North Precinct, 2231 26th Ave. North.

TDEC, the Police Department and Public Works have partnered for several years to sponsor public events where Metro Nashville residents could properly dispose of prescription and OTC medications. Growing interest and popularity of these events initiated discussions on how a permanent collection program could be organized.

With shared funding from TDEC, Public Works and Metro Water Services, 10 collection containers were purchased and wrapped with educational messages regarding pharmaceutical disposal. A collection container will be placed at Metro Nashville police precincts where residents can drop off unused or unwanted medications. (A list of participating precincts and operating hours when the public can use the drop off boxes is below.)

To increase public awareness about the proper disposal of pharmaceuticals, the containers will also be taken to community events, including this Saturday’s Earth Day Festival in Centennial Park.

Items accepted for the Pharmaceutical Collection Program include:

  • Prescriptions
  • Over the counter medications
  • Pet medications
  • Medicated ointment, lotions or drops
  • Liquid medications (in leak-proof containers)
  • Inhalers
  • Pills in any packaging (glass bottles, plastic containers, plastic bags, etc.)

Items not accepted in the program include:

  • Illegal drugs & narcotics (although police will accept these items if placed in the containers)
  • Sharps/needles
  • Blood sugar equipment
  • Thermometers
  • IV bags
  • Bloody or infectious waste
  • Personal care products (shampoo, lotions, etc)

For more information about the Metro Nashville Pharmaceutical Collection Program, please visit
the recycle web site or call Public Works at (615) 880-1000.

Metro Nashville Pharmaceutical Collection Program Participating Police Precincts and Operating Hours

The hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, at the following precincts:

  • North, 2231 26th Avenue North
  • South, 5101 Harding Place
  • East, 936 E. Trinity Lane
  • West, 6730 Charlotte Pike
  • Hermitage, 3701 James Kay Lane

The hours at the Central Precinct, 501 Broadway, will be 8 a.m.-8 p.m. 7 days a week.