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Healthy Water, Healthy You—AARP Highlights Prescription Drug Disposal Program

As part of its Create The Good effort, AARP Illinois is helping to spread the word about a program that helps to keep your drinking water safe while also helping to prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. Even better—the program could be operating in your community right now!

The Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal program (P2D2) was launched as a student initiative of Pontiac Township High School in 2007. P2D2 is a collaborative effort between pharmacies, police agencies, city officials, service groups, and high school students. The purpose of the program is to educate the public about the harm done to the environment due to the current prescription and non-prescription drug disposal practices and to provide communities with an alternative disposal method that ensures the quality of our water for future generations. P2D2 also aims to educate people about how to dispose of prescription drugs safely in order to reduce the risk of prescription drug misuse and abuse.

Typically, people are instructed to dispose of pharmaceuticals by throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the drain - but water treatment plants are not designed to remove pharmaceutical chemicals that make their way into our water system. One study by the U.S Geological Survey found measurable amounts of pharmaceutical drugs in 80% of waterways. In addition, nearly 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs every year with over 8,500 deaths each year attributed to prescription drug abuse.

In 2009, the P2D2 program safely disposed of 95,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals. In communities that have the P2D2 program, individuals can drop off their unused, expired, or unwanted medications at various community drop-off sites. The drugs are then transported to an incineration site when they are disposed of properly. P2D2 is currently operational in over 100 communities in Illinois, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Pontiac Township High School and the P2D2 program have won numerous awards, including the Lt. Governor’s Environmental Hero Award, the Governor’s Green Youth Award, the National Go Green High School of the Year, and the Governor’s Pollution Prevention Award.

Earth Week and National Volunteer Week are April 18th-24th and AARP Illinois encourages you to help Create The Good and consider starting a P2D2 program in your own community!

For more information about the P2D2 program or to find a P2D2 site near you, visit You can also visit the site if you are interested in starting a P2D2 program in your community! For more information about Create The Good, visit

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