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$95,000 to assist unique S.A. firm.



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Media Release

 

Ms Trish Worth

 

TW 20/98

Wednesday, 6th May 1998

 

$95,000 TO ASSIST UNIQUE S.A. FIRM

 

Unemployed South Australians, the environment, community health generally and those living in under developed countries are all set to benefit from $95 ,000 of Federal Government funding which will assist local company, Overseas Pharmaceutical Aid for Life (OPAL), to relocate from its facilities at Ridleyton to the Old Tubemakers site at Kilburn. The funding is in addition to an earlier grant of $200,000 provided by the Howard Government last November to help the company's expansion.

 

OPAL safely collects and disposes of unwanted or expired medicines in an environmentally safe way through high temperature incineration.

 

"OPAL was identified as a company with the potential to create 22 new jobs providing a proposed national scheme for the safe collection and disposal of unwanted medicines goes ahead which it's expected to in the new financial year. This would bring the company's workforce to 33," says Member for Adelaide and Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Family Services, Trish Worth.

 

"At present, 30 South Australian Councils, 390 pharmacies and more than 100 hospitals, clinics and doctors' surgeries participate in OPAL'S collection program. Councils partly fund the collection stands for pharmacies so that people can leave their old and unwanted medicines rather than hoard them at home. Through a second project, OPAL also relies on donations from various pharmaceutical companies and health care facilities, which no longer need to keep certain pharmaceuticals, for its humanitarian aid program."

 

At the time of the initial grant it was not envisaged that OPAL would need to relocate. However, the Federal Government is determined to support OPAL in order to ensure new jobs are generated, Australians are not put at risk of ingesting old or unwanted medicines and the environment is protected from the haphazard disposal of potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals.

 

The $95,000 being provided to OPAL comes from the Howard Government's Rail Reform Transition Package (RRTP), a $20 million programme to assist communities affected by the sale of Australian National.

 

"As a member of the Rail Reform Committee and a strong advocate of this project I am delighted that the Howard Government has decided to provide this further assistance to OPAL and I am sure that those set to benefit from the jobs being generated would join me in expressing our appreciation for the support which it has provided," Ms. Worth says.

 

"OPAL is a unique company with a strong commitment to community and environmental safety. It's a terrific role model for others whether they be individuals or companies."

 

Today's announcement brings to 17 the number of projects which have been supported by the Howard Government in South Australia under the RRTP.

 

These projects have operated in both metropolitan Adelaide and Regional South Australia and are helping generate jobs across the State.

 

Media contact:

Lisa Brett on 8223 1130 or 0411 261 336

 

BA CKGROUND INFORMATION ON OPAL

 

• Established in May 1992 and registered nationally in December 1994

 

• The pharmaceuticals collected and used in aid programs meet the criteria of World Vision Australia and the World Health Organisation Guidelines

 

• Recipie nt countries include:

 

Ukraine Lebanon Cambodia

Mongolia Papua New Guinea Philippines

Thailand Rwanda North Korea

Eritrea Liberia Ethiopia

Somalia

 

• Pharmaceuticals which do not meet the necessary criteria are high temperature incinerated through Collex W aste Management Services

 

• Since it was established, OPAL has collected and distributed more than $4 million of life saving medicines to under developed countries

 

• It was at first estimated that more than 200 tonnes of pharmaceuticals, valued at $210 million wholesale, are either not used or thrown away each year in Australia. It now appears that it may be as high as 700 tonnes

 

• The OPAL project in South Australia has collected more than 85 tonnes of pharmaceuticals in the past 2 years valued at more than $17 million wholesale

 

• Some of the pharmaceuticals collected by OPAL have had expiry dates of 10 years of more and going back as far as 50 years

 

• Without a collection program about 80% of unwanted or out-of-date pharmaceuticals will be flushed down toilets or thrown away in rubbish bins, ultimately ending up in landfill

 

• Whilst case studies on environmental damage, including damage to water tables caused by the leaching of highly toxic substances from landfills, are not available in Australia, OPAL has obtained 2 case studies from overseas. They show high toxic levels in the water table near landfill sites where pharmaceuticals have been dumped

 

• Packaging, including paper, cardboard, metal, glass and plastic, are removed from the pharmaceuticals collected and recycled

 

 

 

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