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Drug drop box nets 325 pounds in its first year

STERLING – The Sterling prescription drug drop-off box has been "very successful" in its first year, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Prescription drugs can be dropped into the box at the Sterling Police Department any time day or night, 7 days a week, for safe and environmentally sound disposal.

Illinois American Water Co. partnered with Sterling, Dixon and Morrison police, the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department and 25 other departments to launch the program.

In Sterling, 325 pounds of unwanted medication were taken in the first year, said Karen Cotton, external affairs manager for Illinois American Water.

"That's more than 325 [pounds of] medications that didn't get flushed down the toilet, didn't end up in a landfill and contaminate our groundwater, didn't end up in the hands of somebody that should be using it," Cotton said. "It's extremely important in protecting our community."

The unwanted medications are incinerated in a closed container and so do not harm the environment, she said.

Needles and syringes are not allowed in the drop-off boxes, she said. "Anyone that wants to dispose of those kinds should work with physicians."

The majority of items turned in are expired or unneeded over-the-counter medication and prescription drugs, Cotton said.

Ideally, they are "things you don't want to have in a medicine cabinet or [found by people] who could misuse or abuse it."

To participate

Unwanted drugs can be dropped off at the Sterling Police Department, 212 Third Ave., 24/7. There's also a box in the lobby of the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department, 400 N. Cherry St. in Morrison.

Those dropping off drugs remain anonymous.

Otherwise. go to and click on "Disposal Locations" to find a box near you, and rules in what can and cannot be dropped off. For instance, needles and syringes are not accepted because of the danger they pose to people emptying the boxes.

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