The State of Iowa is expanding a program that provides a new target for Iowans who are dumping their unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.

By July 1, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy will have paid to install 50 metal lock boxes in pharmacies around the state, to help properly recycle unused medications.

“Pharmacies that want to get one of these permanent kiosks and install it in their pharmacy, we will purchase it for them,” says Jennifer Tiffany, who manages the program. “We will also purchase the replacement liners.”

When the plastic liner inside these locked boxes is full, the pharmacy calls a recycler. The medications are picked up and burned. Tiffany says flushing unused prescriptions down the drain means the chemicals in those drugs wind up in rivers and lakes. Ground water can be contaminated when people toss unused meds in trash that winds up in a landfill. The “Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy” is installing lock boxes for recycling medications in police and sheriff’s offices, too.

“By taking it to a pharmacy or law enforcement and putting it into one of these collection receptacles, it will get, ultimately, incinerated which is the best method whereby to destroy pharmaceuticals,” Tiffany says.

State officials have set an initial goal of getting at least one of these drug-recycling kiosks in every Iowa county. By July 1, there should be one in 93 of the state’s 99 counties.