covanta-logoTulsa, OK, September 11, 2013 – Covanta Tulsa Renewable Energy recently partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of Arkansas and Texas to safely destroy over 44,000 pounds of unwanted medications collected during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The collected drugs are combusted at high temperatures and converted into clean, renewable energy at no charge through Covanta’s Rx4Safety program.

When combined with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’ “Safe Trip for Scripts” program, the total prescription medications collected and destroyed by Covanta Tulsa surpasses 67,000 pounds in the last 12 months.

“Disposing of pharmaceutical drugs at the Covanta facility safeguards our citizens, particularly children, from accidental access to expired medicine,” said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.  “Law enforcement is fortunate to have partners such as Covanta Energy involved in this important effort.”

Tulsa County, OK District Attorney Tim Harris added,  “The partnership between the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Covanta is an example of a public-private partnership solving an important issue. Prescription drug abuse is responsible for over 80% of the drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma.  The partnership with Covanta Energy is a win-win-win; the drugs are converted into renewable energy, this service does not cost the tax payers and the pharmaceuticals are destroyed.  This program has had a significant impact on this troubling problem. If we save one citizen’s life then the effort will be worth it.”

Covanta’s Rx4Safety program was launched as a direct response to prescription drug abuse and evidence of pollution in waterways and drinking water. Covanta has partnered with a variety of community groups and law enforcement agencies since the program’s inception in 2010.

“Our common goal is to keep unwanted or expired prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets and out of the hands of our youth,” said Lisa Barnhill, Diversion Group Supervisor for the DEA in Little Rock, AK. “The partnership between the DEA and Covanta is a win-win for the state of Arkansas and communities in terms of preventing prescription drug abuse and protecting the environment.”

Medications also contaminate surface and groundwater supplies when flushed down the toilet, washed down the sink, or thrown into the local landfill. Wastewater treatment plants cannot filter out pharmaceuticals, passing it along to communities in their surface and drinking water. Medications that wind up in landfills can also end up in water sources since some leachate from landfills goes to those same wastewater treatment plants.

“It is an honor for the Covanta Tulsa Renewable Energy facility to provide this valuable service for the drug take back programs.  Energy-from-Waste facilities like Covanta Tulsa provide a safe way to dispose of unwanted medications, while producing clean energy. Our facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art combustion controls and air pollution control equipment to ensure the destruction of these drugs in an environmentally sound manner, one that protects the water we depend upon day in and day out and ensures that unwanted drugs are not available for abuse,” said Matthew Newman, business manager at Covanta Tulsa.

Since 2010, Covanta’s energy-from-waste facilities have safely destroyed drugs collected from community take-back day events nationwide at no charge.  To date the Rx4Safety program has destroyed approximately 750,000 pounds of medications.

For more information on these important programs, please visit the following websites:

About Covanta

Covanta is a world leader in sustainable waste management and renewable energy. The Company’s 45 Energy-from-Waste facilities provide communities and businesses around the world with an environmentally sound solution to their solid waste disposal needs by using waste to generate clean, renewable energy. Annually, Covanta’s modern Energy-from-Waste facilities safely and securely convert approximately 20 million tons of waste into clean, renewable electricity to power one million homes and recycle over 430,000 tons of metal. Energy-from-Waste facilities reduce greenhouse gases, complement recycling and are a critical component to sustainable solid waste management. For more information, visit

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