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EPA update to waste management regs mark ‘important step forward’

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. – Five retail associations on Tuesday expressed optimism regarding proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency to update waste management regulations that may impact how unsold consumer products and pharmaceuticals are handled by retailers. But more needs to be done, the associations noted. 
 
EPA's application of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the disposal of hazardous waste, to "the very small percentage" of unsold consumer products that may be recycled, reused or otherwise discarded from a retail store represents a challenge for the retail community, the associations argued. 
 
“This [regulation update] is an important step forward and the retail associations welcome the opportunity to respond to these long-awaited proposals," stated Sue Pifer, VP compliance at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. "Although portions of the proposals may offer some relief, the suggested frameworks fall short of easing the burden on retailers who want to manage unsold products in a more sustainable fashion, rather than discarding potentially useful or recyclable items,” she said. “The retail associations again emphasize in their comments that most unsold consumer products and pharmaceuticals are not ‘wastes’, due to the fact that many are suitable for re-shelving, donation, recycling, liquidation or shipment back to vendors for credit.”
 
Specifically, EPA's proposed rules:
 
  • Allow a waste generator to avoid increased burdens of a higher generator status when generating large quantities of hazardous waste “episodically,” or unexpectedly and infrequently. Such episodes may be the result of broken or damaged customer returns, theft or damage within the store, public dumping in trash receptacles or recalls of unusable products;
  • Allow very small quantity generators to consolidate hazardous wastes from multiple locations at a “large quantity generator” site, such as a distribution center, thereby eliminating the disproportionate regulatory burdens of a higher generator status at store-level, provided certain conditions are met; and
  • Allow health care facilities to manage hazardous waste pharmaceuticals under tailored, sector-specific regulations, and relax the requirements for managing empty pharmaceutical containers. 
 
EPA is also soliciting comment on potential amendments to the heightened “acute” hazardous waste classification for smoking cessation products, like low-concentration nicotine patches, gums and lozenges, which subjects retailers to  additional in-store requirements.
 
Reverse distribution involves the removal and consolidation of consumer products and pharmaceuticals that are not sold in retail stores and is a long-standing business practice that is friendly to the environment and good for consumers, the associations noted. The practice pre-dates the arcane application of RCRA to retailers’ reverse distribution operations.
 
In 2014, RILA led a coalition of retailers to explain the challenges of complying with RCRA, and some of the issues raised by the coalition were addressed in the proposed rules, released by the EPA in September 2015.
 
In addition to RILA, the retail associations include the Food Marketing Institute, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Grocers Association and the National Retail Federation. 
 
 
 
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Meijer milestone: 30 million free prescriptions dispensed

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Meijer pharmacies marked a major milestone late last month when the retailer’s free prescription program hit 30 million prescriptions dispensed – 6 million alone in 2015 – since October 2006 when the program launched. 
 
The program has saved customers more than $422 million, noted Nat Love, VP pharmacy for the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer.
 
“Meijer is a family-owned company committed to meeting the needs of other families,” Love said. “We do this by providing positive solutions to everyday problems, which includes access to necessary medications. We began our free prescription program with that in mind, and are pleased that so many families across the Midwest continue to find it valuable.”
 
The program began by covering leading oral generic antibiotics, with a special focus on the prescription most often filled for children. The program expanded over the years by offering free prenatal vitamins in May 2008; metformin, the most commonly-prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes, in 2010; and atorvastatin calcium, the generic substitute for Lipitor, the cholesterol-lowering medication, in 2012, Love said.
 
The most popular free prescription filled at Meijer in 2015 was atorvastatin calcium with 3 million this year, saving customers $37.7 million. 
 
Other prescription savings included:
 
  • Metformin with 1.4 million prescriptions and a $10.6 million cost-savings to customers;
  • Antibiotics with 1.3 million prescriptions and a $10 million cost-savings; and
  • Prenatal vitamins with 540,000 prescriptions and an $11 million cost-savings.
 
 
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Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to address NACDS Annual attendees

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. – Gen. Martin Dempsey, U.S. Army, retired, who in September 2015 concluded his 41 years of military service and his tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will speak at the April 19 Business Program during the 2016 NACDS Annual Meeting, the association announced Wednesday.
 
News of Gen. Dempsey’s engagement in the NACDS Annual Meeting follows December’s announcement that former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, R-Ohio, will speak at the April 17 Business Program during the event.
 
“NACDS members are going to hear from the very leader and patriot whom the President and Secretary of Defense heard from, as recently as a few months ago, on the most pressing national security topics,” stated NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson. “With former Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey and former House Speaker John Boehner on the program, the NACDS Annual Meeting will present the best-qualified and most-timely speakers on issues continuing to unfold in the national and international arenas.”
 
Gen. Dempsey assumed the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from his prior position as chief of staff of the United States Army, which he held from April to September 2011. 
 
During his Army service, he commanded a Cavalry Troop, a Tank Battalion, a Cavalry Regiment, a Tank Division, and United States Central Command, where he was responsible for securing U.S. interests in the Middle East and South Asia. He served in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, accumulating 42 months in combat.
 
Gen. Dempsey is a 1974 graduate of the United States Military Academy. He earned Master of Arts degrees from three institutions: from Duke in Literature, from the Army Command & General Staff College in Military Science, and from the National War College in National Security Strategy.
 
His military awards include the Bronze Star with the “V” Device that honors valor in combat; the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; and Distinguished Service Medals from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard; as well as awards from other Departments in the United States Government including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. 
 
He has received awards from many U.S. allies including France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore.
 
In 2015, Gen. Dempsey was named one of the “100 most influential leaders in the world” by TIME magazine.
 
Gen. Dempsey and his wife, Deanie, have been married for 39 years. They served the military as a team, and Deanie was instrumental in supporting military families and championing many of the family programs that have been critical to U.S. success over the past 14 years of conflict. 
 
They have three children and nine grandchildren. Each of their three children served in the Army, and their son, Chris, continues to serve as a Major recently assigned to the Pentagon.
 
Gen. Dempsey’s post-military career includes a teaching position at Duke University in public policy and leadership and a role as the special advisor to the commissioner of the National Basketball Association for leader development and youth programs.
 
 
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