American University of Beirut

Expired Medications Take-Back Program

​​​​​​​Cold weather season and the risk of catching a cold compels us to go running to our home medicine cabinet to make sure we are ready to handle the coming winter. Most likely, our cabinet will hold expired medication that is not fit for use and finds its fate in the trash bin or down the drain.

Such improper medication disposal practices have tangible impacts on our environment by introducing active pharmaceutical components to our surroundings.  

​​Infographs that explain the dangers of improper medication disposal and what happens to these medication once they are disposed

​To reduce the environmental and health impact of the disposal of Household Pharmaceutical Waste (HPW), Professor Walid Saad from the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture along with the Interdisciplinary Design Practice Program (IDPP) launched a survey to understand the behavior of AUB community members relating to the disposal of household pharmaceutical wastes.

In parallel, the team planned a pilot take-back program as a safer alternative to disposing expired pharmaceuticals along with regular waste or by flushing them down the drain. The IDPP team worked with MSFEA students on designing “smart bins'' starting with rapid prototyping all the way to in-house manufacturing: accounting for usability, safety, and instrumentation to understand behavioral patterns around the disposal of HPW. The designed bins serve as collection boxes and are fitted with features that allow for recording the number of drop-offs and frequency.

A first collection point was set up at the Adlieh Pharmacy in the Achrafieh area, where neighboring households but also dedicated environmentalists have adopted the collection bin and are changing their habits to preserve our ecology.

“It’s good to know that I’m not contributing to throwing more toxic waste in our already very broken waste management system” - Tara, 24

The on-campus AUB campaign will be launched in the coming weeks around the West Hall area, so make sure to hold onto your expired pharmaceuticals and throw them safely. Bins are unattended and your privacy is respected. ​

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