Where and how expired medicines are recycled

It is something very typical that we suddenly get together at home with several medications and without realizing it time has passed and they are expired. We are accumulating them to complete our medicine cabinet or because we have left over from a treatment that we once needed, and now they are no longer useful. The question is: What do we do with those expired drugs or that we no longer use?

Where medicines are recycled

The place where you should take expired or disused medications is the pharmacy itself. Most (more than 21,000 throughout the national territory) have what is called a SIGRE Point, which is a small container located inside the establishment in which the drugs that we no longer want are introduced. You will have to ask if they have it and where it is because it often goes unnoticed.

SIGRE is a non-profit entity formed by companies in the pharmaceutical sector, in charge of recycling medicines with the aim of preserving the environment by preventing these products from ending up in places where they can create pollution problems. And on the other hand, to make the population aware of how unwise it is to accumulate drugs at home with the intention of also preventing indiscriminate use of them due to the damages that this can cause to our health.

Most addictive drugs

What can you bring to Punto SIGRE?

The SIGRE point collects expired medicines, those that we no longer use, empty boxes or containers or with leftovers.

What do you do with recycled medicines?

Being special products, from SIGRE they ensure that they are given a special and differentiated treatment, which is respectful with nature and the environment.

The process is circular. Once the citizen leaves the medicines and containers in the recycling container of the pharmacy, the distribution companies come into play. When they leave the new medicines in the pharmacies, they take advantage of the trip to pick up those that are no longer useful. According to SIGRE, “with this reverse logistics system the planet 1,400 tons of CO2 emissions are saved per year”.

The distributors transfer the products to the SIGRE packaging and drug waste treatment plant, where they are separated according to the type. So on the one hand empty containers are recycled in order to reuse their materials: paper, cardboard, video, plastic, etc. Then they are non-hazardous drug residues that are eliminated through an energy recovery system and whose remains are used as fuel for industrial processes and, finally, we have dangerous drugs, which are destroyed.

Thanks to the recycling of these products, the felling of 50,000 trees is avoided each year and there is an energy saving equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 2,200 homes, SIGRE clarifies.