The best way to dispose of vape products on ‘National Drug Take Back Day’

May 05, 2022

Originally published in Syracuse.com on April 28, 2022.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More than 100 local police departments and drug stores across New York have partnered again to provide a free opportunity to dispose of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Vape cartridges, used hypodermic needles, sharps and lancets will also be accepted for disposal.

This year, the Upstate New York Poison Center has partnered with Senator John Mannion and the Manlius Police Department to invite local residents to drop-off old medications and check out free materials from the poison center. Residents may stop by on Saturday at the Manlius Police Department’s permanent drop-off location, 1 Arkie Albanese Avenue, Manlius.

At the last collection event in October, the DEA says New Yorkers turned in nearly 29,000 pounds of prescription drugs at 149 collection sites in the state.

In 2021, the poison center received 132 calls related to vaping products. In the first 4 months of this year alone, they have already received 176 calls.

“With increased availability of vaping products, we expect this trend of higher calls to continue,” says Dr. Christine Stork, clinical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center, “We have already seen the devastating effects of some vaping products on the lungs and used vaping products getting into the hands of little kids. Know even a small amount of vape juice can be toxic to a child. Please call us with any questions: 1-800-222-1222.”

In 2019 the Drug Enforcement Administration started accepting vaping devices without lithium-ion batteries and vape cartridges at any of its drop off locations during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. During this year’s event, the Upstate New York Poison Center wants to remind everyone of the best way to get rid of vaping pens and cartridges.

Devices containing lithium-ion batteries cannot be accepted. Vape pens, even disposables, use lithium batteries which should only be disposed of through county hazardous waste collections to prevent possible explosions.

“Vape cartridges, empty or full, should not be thrown in the trash as it could lead to a poisoning,” says Gail Banach, director of public education at Upstate New York Poison Center, “Vape cartridges can be dropped off at any participating pharmacy during the DEA’s Drug Take Back event or at on-going collection sites throughout the year.“

If you are unable to make the events in your area on Saturday, there are many other ways to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs and vape products throughout the year:

In Onondaga County - since 2015 the SNADD Program has partnered with 11 police departments, Onondaga County Community College and SUNY Environmental School of Forestry to make medicine boxes available and most also collect sharps/needles. Residents can drop off their old, expired medications, vape cartridges and used hypodermic needles, sharps, and lancets at these sites during regular business hours year-round.