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Why Your Drug Take-Back Event Should Include Drug Deactivation and Disposal

Former police chief shares the benefits of including the Deterra System in drug take-back programs

By: Rob Reynolds, Director of Advocacy for Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc., and former Chief of Police for the Eden Prairie Police Department

On October 28, communities across the country will participate in the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. For public safety departments, nonprofits and local governments, take-back events are an important opportunity to raise awareness about the essential role proper drug disposal plays in preventing misuse, theft and overdoses.

During my 31-year career in law enforcement, I’ve participated in dozens of take-back events and drop-off programs. While serving as Chief of Police for the Eden Prairie Police Department in Eden Prairie, Minn., I was introduced to the Deterra® Drug Deactivation and Disposal System, an at-home medication disposal system that safely destroys unwanted, expired and unused medications.

Deterra helped us remove barriers to proper disposal and expand our prevention efforts to accommodate people who were unable to make the trip to our station or who had medications we couldn’t accept, like liquids and unlabeled prescriptions.

In addition to empowering citizens to de-risk their medicine cabinets from the convenience of home, providing an at-home drug deactivation and disposal option helped reduce the strain on our department’s resources that went toward take-back events and maintaining a public drop box.

Benefits of At-Home Drug Deactivation and Disposal

  1. Reach people who can’t attend drug take-back events or visit drop-off sites. When we introduced Deterra Pouches, people loved having something they could share with family members and neighbors to clean out their home medicine cabinets. For rural residents, older adults experiencing mobility challenges, people who lack access to reliable transportation, and even busy parents, having an at-home drug deactivation and disposal option helps ensure unwanted medications are safely destroyed as soon as they are no longer needed.
  2. Provide a convenient disposal option for unaccepted drugs. Deterra provides an immediate way to get rid of unused drugs whenever it’s convenient, so they don’t pile up between take-back events. Plus, it’s effective on substances that aren’t accepted at many take-back locations or that individuals may not have though to bring to a drop site, such as over-the-counter medications, vape liquid, illicit drugs, unlabeled prescriptions and fentanyl.*
  3. Save time and money on disposal programs and events. Providing Deterra helped reduce staff time spent managing drug collection events and drop boxes, without reducing community access to proper drug disposal. Deterra also offers drug disposal containers that can be used to deactivate large quantities of medications collected from the public so they cannot be misused or stolen prior to being picked up for incineration.
  4. Engage with the community to raise awareness about proper drug disposal. Providing at-home drug deactivation and disposal resources at community events and in public spaces is an excellent way to engage the community around drug misuse prevention and encourage proper drug disposal year-round. Organizations like the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office have found creative ways to distribute Deterra to reach even more people in their communities.
  5. Protect the environment. Medications that are flushed or thrown directly in the trash can end up in our soil and groundwater, something that concerned many of our residents in Eden Prairie. Deterra Pouches help prevent environmental harm and they have won several sustainability awards, including Sustainability Product of the Year and the SEAL Business Sustainability Award two years in a row.

Public safety agencies make at-home drug deactivation and disposal pouches part of their prevention efforts to encourage proper drug disposal year-round.

Including Deterra in Community Drug Disposal Programs 

Preventing substance use and overdoses starts with eliminating opportunities for misuse. Drug take back events and at-home drug deactivation resources are critical tools for communities to combat drug misuse. Providing your community with an at-home drug deactivation and disposal option is a great way to expand the reach of in-person events and encourage proper drug disposal year-round.

Many organizations use grants and other funding opportunities to purchase and distribute Deterra as part of a larger prevention program or as a standalone at-home drug deactivation campaign. For example, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office secured funding for Deterra through a Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP) grant (formerly COSSAP), which aims to help state, local, and tribal jurisdictions address substance use based on local needs.

To purchase Deterra in time for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, create an online account or log in to an existing account and place your order by October 18.


Rob Reynolds

About the Author

Rob Reynolds is Director of Advocacy at Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc., creator of the Deterra® Drug Deactivation and Disposal System. He works with nonprofits, coalitions and government agencies to help increase access to proper at-home drug disposal resources. Prior to joining Verde, Rob had a 31-year career with the Eden Prairie Police Department in Eden Prairie, Minn., including serving 9 years as Police Chief. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Minnesota.

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Post updated Sept. 27, 2023