We continue our long-standing support of initiatives to safely dispose of medication, help remove and manage marine debris and prevent mercury pollution from consumer goods.
Covanta’s Prescription for Safety (Rx4Safety) program provides for the safe disposal and destruction of medications. Since the program’s launch, Rx4Safety has safely destroyed more than 2.5 million pounds of unwanted medications, with almost one million pounds destroyed in 2014 alone.
Launched in 2010 as a direct response to evidence of prescription drug abuse and pollution in our waterways, we offer this service free of charge to residential take-back programs. With our EfW facilities, we are able to generate clean electricity from the disposal of prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, veterinary medications and nutritional supplements.
Rx4Safety has proven a great success. Through a broad range of partnerships—the Department of Justice, local police forces, state-level administrators and environmental groups—we’ve helped build a powerful coalition for addressing a serious social and environmental concern. Through these partnerships, we’ve been able to make incredible progress in eliminating pharmaceuticals from improper use and disposal.
Our efforts in leading this initiative have been recognized by our communities; for example, in 2014, the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) Board of Directors presented Covanta Tulsa and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) with the Towering Spirit award for its Rx4Safety work.
“I am grateful for partnerships such as Covanta and the Bureau of Narcotics that are working together to fundamentally change the method of disposing of prescription medication and uniquely reusing it as an energy resource. This program truly keeps Oklahoma’s beauty running deep.”
Keep Oklahoma Beautiful
There is much work still to be done. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that 80 percent of U.S. waterways contain traces of pharmaceuticals, and the abuse of prescription drugs remains a leading cause of accidental death in the United States. As long as the problem persists we will do our best to find and provide a solution.
Fishing for Energy
Fishing for Energy provides commercial fishermen with cost-free opportunities to dispose of derelict and retired fishing gear while offering grant support for direct assessment, prevention and removal efforts. The program was established in 2008 as a partnership between Covanta, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc.
Every day, commercial fishermen around the country deploy hundreds of traps and miles of nets into ocean and coastal waters. Fishing gear lost to weather and through other causes continues to capture fish and degrade the marine habitat. Known as “ghost fishing,” the phenomenon is an economic and environmental hardship to fishing industries and coastal communities.
Through our work on the Fishing for Energy program, we have earned recognition as a leader in marine debris management and disposal. In 2011, the Ocean Conservancy asked Covanta to join the Trash Free Seas Alliance as a founding member. What started as a group focused on removing plastic from the ocean has since evolved to address the root of the problem: a lack of sustainable waste management infrastructure in many developing countries. Today, the Trash Free Seas Alliance provides financial support in key countries to prevent plastics from ever finding their way into the ocean.
Mercury Collection Program
Mercury is still present in a number of consumer goods. It is important to prevent it from entering the waste stream in order to protect water supplies and human health.
Covanta believes that the best strategy for preventing releases of mercury and other toxins is to reduce their use in consumer products. In order to achieve that goal, Covanta is a sustaining partner of the Product Stewardship Institute and supports legislation that would eliminate the use of mercury in consumer products. If mercury must be used, then we believe the manufacturer should be responsible for its proper disposal.
In the absence of a nationwide initiative to reduce or manage mercury in consumer products, Covanta has conducted mercury awareness and collection programs since 2000. These programs inform the public that mercury-bearing items should not be discarded with other municipal solid waste. The program originated in Massachusetts and has now expanded across the nation. More than 2,000 pounds of mercury has been diverted from the waste stream through these efforts.
In December of 2014, we awarded the Covanta Ton of Thanks award to one of our nonprofit partners, the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, for their Hazardous Materials Program work to help remove mercury from the environment. Of the more than 2,000 pounds of mercury that Covanta has collected, the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension has brought in about one quarter of that total.
Go Green Initiative
The Go Green Initiative (GGI) is a global environmental education program that trains teachers, school personnel and volunteers to conserve natural resources for future generations and protect human health through environmental stewardship. We learned of GGI in 2008, and through continued financial support, we have helped introduce the program into many schools in the areas in which we operate.
In the City of Newark, New Jersey, near our Essex facility, the founder of GGI spent several days working with the city’s sustainability office, meeting school and elected officials and conducting a “train the trainer” session with the local school district. The GGI has worked in Newark for the past several years. We are expanding the program to other locations in the near future, including Chester, Camden and an additional Newark school in the fall of 2015.
“Covanta team members have been partners in the truest sense. It has been so satisfying to work with Covanta and get to know the team in a way that truly aids my organization in creating positive changes for the students we serve. The insights I have gained from working so closely with Covanta personnel have exponentially increased the impact the GGI has made in schools.” Jill Buck
Founder, Go Green Initiative