Sonoma County urged to pass drug disposal law

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cities up and down the Russian River watershed are urging Sonoma County to pass a local law requiring drug companies to pay for a system to collect unwanted or expired medicines and dispose of them in a way that is safer for residents and the environment.

Six Sonoma County cities have signed letters urging the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to study enacting such a countywide ordinance. The Santa Rosa City Council is set to take up the matter Tuesday night and two other cities, Sonoma and Petaluma, are considering the issue.

If approved, such a law would shift the burden for disposal of prescription medicines, which can harm aquatic environments, from local governments to the private sector.

“It’s inequitable because we’re picking up the tab for this work while the most important stakeholder in this process, the pharmaceutical industry, is not part of the solution as of yet,” Cotati City Councilman Mark Landman told Santa Rosa’s Board of Public Utilities last month.

Sonoma and Mendocino counties have a publicly funded but rag-tag medicine collection system that has kept 90,000 pounds of drugs out of landfills since 2007. The 11 cities and other government agencies in the Russian River Watershed Association fund and manage the program.

But the high cost — amounting to about $1.1 million to date — fragmented management responsibility, and sharp decrease in number of drop-off sites have left the program struggling.

Read more at: Push on in Sonoma County to pass pill disposal to drug companies