Postal Service Expands Prescription Mail Back

Program Diverts Expired, Unused Medicine from Landfills, Water Supply

April 08, 2010 

Release No. 10-032 

WASHINGTON — Veterans will be able to safely dispose of expired and unused prescriptions and help the environment at the same time under a program offered by the U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

This pilot program is limited to an estimated 780,000 veterans living in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and West Virginia. Veterans mail back outdated, unwanted medicine. Federally approved facilities safely destroy the medicine, insuring that prescriptions don’t end up in municipal refuse, soil or ground water.

“This initiative pairs the convenience of the mail with the safety of a federally approved prescription drug disposal process,” said Robert Bernstock, president, Mailing and Shipping Services. “The Prescription Mail Back program demonstrates the Postal Service’s continued value as an integral part of American communities.”

Veterans receive specially designed, postage-paid envelopes and instructions with their prescription fulfillment. Expired and unused pharmaceuticals placed in the special packaging can be dropped in familiar blue USPS collection boxes or at Post Offices. The envelopes are delivered to facilities regulated and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Pharmaceuticals from this and other similar mail-back initiatives are destroyed in accordance with EPA and DEA standards, including cataloguing and use of incineration, chemical or thermal processes.

The prescription mail-back initiative began in the state of Maine in 2008, and has been successfully expanding ever since. The VA program joins similar ones in 47 states. Mail-back envelopes are being distributed at supermarket pharmacies, in doctors and dentists offices, and at medical facilities including hospitals, clinics and hospices.

“The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to tell Americans the good news about the expanded prescription mail-back program,” said Sam Pulcrano, vice president, Sustainability. “It is another way the Postal Service demonstrates its commitment to the environment.”

The Postal Service has won more than 75 environmental awards, including 40 White House Closing the Circle, 10 Environmental Protection Agency WasteWise Partner of the Year, Climate Action Champion, Direct Marketing Association Green Echo, and the Postal Technology International Environmental Achievement of the Year, 2009.

For more information about the Postal Service green initiatives, tools and products, visit

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

# # #

Please Note: For broadcast quality video and audio, photo stills and other media resources, visit the USPS Newsroom at

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no direct support from taxpayers. With 36,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, the Postal Service relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses. Named the Most Trusted Government Agency five consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $68 billion and delivers nearly half the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 28th in the 2009 Fortune 500.

Postal News

Media Contacts