Pill Power Plants Popping Up


Pallets of pills at Covanta Energy, Indianapolis

We talk about the dangers of drugs in our water supply, but what do you do with expired or unfinished prescriptions? Most people just flush them or throw them in the garbage, but many drugstores will take them back. What happens then? Hospitals and drugstores turn to the professionals; Capital Returns incinerated 6.5 million pounds of drugs last year in a waste-to-energy plant, generating two million kilowatt/hours, enough electricity to power 220 homes. Said its president: "Instead of just having this product go some place and be destroyed, and have no benefit whatsoever because it's dumped in the ground, it's great it's able to create some energy and a resource that people are able to use."

The drugs are burned in an incinerator in Indianapolis, while more hazardous materials are incinerated in Arkansas. We are told, of course, that properly managed incinerators are safe and environmentally sound, and are certain that the EPA is monitoring this carefully to ensure that nothing noxious is coming out of the stack. It is an intractible problem and perhaps this is the best way to deal with it. ::CBC and ::Houston Chronicle

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