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Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project

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Australia’s Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project provides a national scheme for unwanted and out-of-date medicines to be collected by community pharmacies and disposed of by high temperature incineration, which is the EPA-approved method of disposal.

The RUM Project initiative represents a “world first” in the management and removal of unwanted and out-of-date medicines. Community pharmacies across Australia receive these unwanted medicines from consumers at no cost to the consumer.

This Commonwealth-funded program addresses a fundamental impediment to the quality use of medicines in Australia, namely safe disposal. It is recognised that hoarding of old and unwanted medicines can lead to the medicines becoming misused, abused or harming children if left lying around. Research also now demonstrates possible adverse environmental effects from inappropriately discarded pharmaceuticals in waterways (United States EPA).

The most common means of disposal – down the sink or toilet, or in the bin – may lead to poor environmental consequences.

The increasing number of medication options being provided to treat medical conditions results in frequent changes to medication. The aged consumer is confronted with a dazzling array of changing medications with subsequent confusion and often poor medication management. This confusion can be reduced with appropriate disposal of medicines no longer required.

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