Turning old pills into electricity throughout York County

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For the past two years, York County's Solid Waste and Refuse Authority, has been turning used or unwanted medications into electricity. The pills come from the Med Return Box Program.

"Makes it more convenient for people to dispose of their medications. It's literally right in their own backyard. They don't have to travel very far and it's free," said Ellen O'Connor, community services division manager for the authority.

16 out of 22 police departments in York County participate in the program. People can drop off their medication -- no questions asked. The pills are then brought to the waste plant where law enforcement drops them directly into the feed chute. That’s when the process of converting it to electricity begins.

“Which takes the material down into one of three combustion units where the medication is burned at a very high heat to help us produce steam and we use the steam pressure to produce power,” added O’Connor.

With all three combustion units at maximum capacity,  enough power is generated to light up 20,000 homes.

“It could literally light up the City of York if all the power went to the City of York,” O’Connor said.

The county also uses the electricity to run its own plant. Met-Ed buys the rest.

O'Connor adds it's also environmentally friendly. She says, "Because we have waste to energy, we're completely destroying it [garbage] and turning it into an inert ash, much safer for the environment and it's not going to a landfill where it's going to eventually break down and end up in the soil and water."

If you'd like to learn more about the Med Return Box Program, click on the following link: http://bit.ly/1AeOoto

 

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