PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)– More than a ton of prescription drugs will not find their way into the Long Island water supply thanks to a unique program.

In partnership with the supermarket chain King Kullen, officials say Long Island’s safe disposal program for unused and expired medications has been hugely successful.

In just its first year of operation, King Kullen pharmacies collected 2,000 pounds or one ton of unwanted prescription drugs, said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“The results demonstrate the need for free, convenient safe disposal options,” Esposito said. “We need only pharmacists and doctors to dispense medication, not our kitchen sink.”

Environmentalists and drinking water suppliers celebrated the massive amount of unused prescription drugs collected in just the last year.

King Kullen managers said they were motivated by studies that showed trace amounts of pharmaceuticals had been found in Jamaica Bay and waters surrounding Long Island’s South Shore.

Several studies of bay waters show that prescription drugs flushed down toilets and sinks were harming the reproductive organs of flounder and other fish.

Officials said the program guarantees drugs collected and properly disposed of will never be abused or find their way into the water supply.

“Every pill you throw down the drain goes through our treatment facility into the bays, into the ocean,” Mike Martino of United Water Treatment Facility told TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose.

Shoppers inside King Kullen acknowledged they’ve had to change their drug disposal habits.

“In the old days we used to flush them down the toilet! Certainly did,” Loretta Barton-Bohemia of Suffolk County said. “Really can’t do that anymore, really shouldn’t anyway!”

The program already has plans for expansion. The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency is allowing King Cullen to collect popular pain medications like Oxycodone, which if not properly disposed of, can fall into the hands of drug abusers.

King Kullen has obtained a state grant funding the program through next year. While Long Island’s water is considered above federal standards, it’s constantly tested for trace amounts of prescription drugs.

“Expanding the program to all drugs is critical to providing a one stop for safe disposal for all our customers,” said Albert W. Hesse Jr., King Kullen’s Director of Pharmacy. “This critical expansion will only continue to build upon the success of the program.”

The pharmacy said dropped off drugs are first triple-sealed before being sent to incinerators.

To find a drop-off location, CLICK HERE.

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