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Wichita Nonprofit Providing Eco-Friendly Drug Disposal Bags

Safe Streets/Partners for Wichita

Wichita nonprofit Partners for Wichita is distributing eco-friendly drug disposal bags to help reduce prescription drug abuse in the community.

The idea is to get people to safely dispose of unwanted medicines so the drugs don’t end up in the hands of children or addicts.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office says medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates opioid overdoses kill 91 Americans every day.

Partners for Wichita provides drug deactivation pouches called “Deterra bags” for free at expos and community events in Wichita.

Community Mobilizer Jan Chandler says they distributed Deterra bags through the Safe Streets program at various events such as National Night Out, the Convoy of Hope, Senior Expo and Filling the Gap. She says 200 bags were distributed at one drop-off site during the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in October.

Chandler says the Deterra bags come in three sizes--a small bag can hold up to 15 pills--and all it takes to work is a little water.

“There’s a substance inside that once you add the water, it deactivates the medication. So if you can’t get to a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, you can do it [dispose of unwanted prescription drugs] at your home,” she says.

The bags can go into the trash when done. The Deterra company says the bags are made from recycled materials and the chemicals used in the deactivation process are safe for landfills.

Chandler says Partners for Wichita handed out about 4600 bags so far this year, with more distributions planned for 2018.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, pharmaceutical opioids are a leading cause of drug poisoning deaths in Kansas. The CDC says the number of opioid prescriptions has quadrupled since 1999, despite Americans reporting a steady amount of pain.

Law enforcement agencies in Sedgwick County assist with National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days in April and October each year. It’s a chance for people to bring their unused, unwanted or expired medications including prescriptions, controlled substances and over-the-counter medicines to designated sites for safe disposal.

Two Walgreens locations in Wichita offer free drug disposal kiosks. They are located at 3333 E. Central and 555 N. Maize Road.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

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