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Saline Prescription Drug Recycling Program Off To A Rousing Start

"Big Red Barrel" for unwanted prescription drugs takes in nearly 18 pounds of pills in its first month at city hall.

Dividends from the "Big Red Barrel," a drop-off site for unused over-the-counter and prescription medicines, were put on display Monday night a Saline City Council meeting.

Saline is the first city in Washtenaw County to have such a receptacle for medications. The barrel is located outside City Hall.

Police Chief Larry Hrinik and Officer Chris Boulter brought in the contents of the barrel from the first month of the program. 

Boulter held up a clear plastic bag filled with 7 pounds of pills of various shapes and colors taken after the first three weeks of deposits. Then he held up a black garbage bag that Hrinik said weighed about 10 pounds taken just before the council meeting.

The collection means those medicines will not go into the landfill or city water supply, Hrinik said.

The Big Red Barrel is a concept taken from Livingston County and is one that Hrinik has already recommended to his colleague in Genesee County where he worked before coming to Saline.

If Saline can have 18 pounds in one month, the potential amount from larger towns would be significantly higher, Hrinik said.

“This is a real success,” he said.  “I think this a great project.”

Mayor Gretchen Driskell agreed. The barrel is locked so no one can get into the medications and it is anonymous so no one will know who drops off the drugs.

“Keep it away from your children and keep it out of our water supply,” she said. “It’s a really great program.”

Anyone can drop off medications at the barrel, City Manager Todd Campbell said. Plastic bags are preferred over bottles, but Hrinik said they collected a large amount of pill bottles which have all been recycled and kept out of the landfill.

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