It's been nearly five years since Erie County launched its drug drop-off program. It allows residents to get rid of old prescription medications and needles.
The county has set-up 26 drop off points throughout the county. County leaders hope this will curb the growing epidemic and save lives.
Since the program started Erie County Sheriff's Office has collected more than 15 tons of unwanted pills and 5 tons of needles, total, at the drop off sites. Sheriff Timothy Howard says majority of the items come from drop off locations at Erie County Medical Center and the Town of Elma.
Erie County Health Commissioner, Dr. Gale Burstein said so far this year there have been 80 confirmed opioid related deaths and 120 suspected deaths are pending toxicology reports.
"If you do the math that more than one a day. we are really struggling. The drugs on the street are very very toxic. They are very very deadly and people don't even really realize what they are buying," Burstein said.
County leaders say this will continue this drop off program as long as there are more drugs and needles on the streets. They say this is the safest way to dispose of the materials.
"We don't want them flushed down the toilet because department of sewers does not have the capability In the end to remove all of that drugs from the system and eventually falls into our water supply," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.
The drugs are sent to a Western New York company to be properly destroyed and used as a form of clean energy.