Sustainable Industry

How should you dispose of expired medicines?

Adequate disposal of expired or unused medicines prevents environmental contamination

The safe disposal of solid waste is a growing concern in the industrial sector and among citizens. Just like pesticides, battery cells, batteries, tires, lubricating oils, fluorescent lamps, and electrical and electronic goods, the Federal Government established that medicines too must be subject to reverse logistics, based on Article 33(1) of the National Solid Waste Policy (Law No. 12,305). So they must undergo reverse logistics procedures in order to be disposed of adequately. This applies to expired or unused household medicines.

The Reverse Logistics System for Human Use, Expired or Unused Household Medicines and their Packaging (LogMed) was established by Federal Decree No. 10,388/2020.

According to the regulation, consumers are responsible for the adequate disposal of medicines and their packaging at collection points provided by drugstores and pharmacies. Distributors are responsible for covering the costs of collection and transport to storage facilities. Manufacturers and importers, in turn, are responsible for transporting storage facilities to environmentally appropriate disposal points.

Operation – LogMed is run by Sindusfarma and relies on the support of over 14 retail, wholesale and industrial organizations. Operations started in 2021, and 53 tons of medicines were prevented from being thrown into the environment since. There are 3,600 collection points across Brazil, which benefit more than 70 million people. The system is expected to cover six thousand collection points by mid-2023.

Expired and unused household medicines and their packaging should be dropped off at collection points. Items such as syringes, needles and sharps, such as broken vials, are not allowed. These must be taken to dedicated disposal sites, such as health care facilities.

Warning – It is important to emphasize that inadequate disposal of medicines could contaminate the soil and water, especially if they are thrown away in regular waste bins or in the sewage network. According to Sindusfarma director Rosana Mastellaro, it is important to raise awareness of this issue among the public. “We need to engage the public more. Just like we no longer want to dispose of plastic unsafely, for example – because it can cause contamination –, we cannot dispose of medicines inadequately either. This will pollute the environment, contaminate the soil, the water, the animals, and it could have indirect effects on human beings,” she said.

Would you like to find a collection point? Click here to browse 3,600 collection points spread across Brazil.