Dias-Ferreira, C., Valente, S. & Vaz, J. (2016) Practices of pharmaceutical waste generation and discarding in households across Portugal.Waste Management & Research, 34(10), 1006-1013. DOI:10.1177/0734242X16639388 (IF2015 1,338; Q3 Environmental Sciences)
This work is the first nationwide study in Portugal on pharmaceutical waste generated at households, exploring people’s attitudes and risk perception. The waste audit was carried out from September to November 2014, targeting pharmaceutical products kept by a sample of families (n = 244). This campaign was an assignment of VALORMED, the non-profit association that manages waste and packaging from expired and unused pharmaceutical products collected by the pharmacies. On average, each household kept at home 1097 g of pharmaceutical products, of which 20% were in use, 72% were not in use, and 8% were mostly expired products ready to discard. Face-to-face interviews with householders showed that 69% of the respondents claimed returning pharmaceutical waste to the local pharmacy. However, this figure is overrated, probably owing to a possible ‘good answer’ effect. The barriers identified to proper disposal were mainly established routines and lack of close disposal points. This study also provides an insight into the Portuguese awareness and daily practices concerning pharmaceutical waste, which is the cornerstone of any future strategy to reduce the release of active pharmaceutical ingredients into ecosystems.