Tag for expired drugs container - recycling:drugs or waste=drugs?

There are 2 tags that seem to be correct for the container for expired drugs found typically in pharmacies: waste=drugs and recycling:drugs, which has no wiki page, but it’s mentioned in amenity=recycling.

The question is which one should we use?

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Are drugs actually recycled? I am pretty sure that they are safely destroyed, not recycled.

I know about some places collecting unused medicine and distributing it to poor who need it but it does not really count as recycling either, I think.

I also used some trash_accepted:medicines=yes/no


I wasn’t aware that we actually tagged based on the actual destination of waste in this way - I thought that we just read what it said on the side of the box?

For many years some “recycling” from richer nations wasn’t in any sense recycled at all, just sold on by unscrupulous merchants to the global south. Now a significant portion is incinerated, which if done at a high enough temperature is both a safe means of disposal and releases the energy.

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This is something that all pharmacies do in the UK. Its more about safe disposal than recycling.

Tagging it feels a bit like tagging a supermarket with sells:cheese=yes.

I used trash_accepted:medicines | Keys | OpenStreetMap Taginfo only for my nearby pharmacies and it has quite healthy yes/no split.

Maybe mapping it in UK would be waste of time.

not sure

If we do not care at all - then it would be worth documenting at Tag:amenity=recycling - OpenStreetMap Wiki and Counterintuitive keys and values - OpenStreetMap Wiki

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we’re generally distinguishing recycling from trash collection, but of course there is no guarantee that what is collected with a recycling label sticked to it will actually be recycled (paper, glass and textiles probably yes, plastic maybe a part, etc.) or downcycled or whatever, but it is currently documented to use the recycling key for some material that isn’t likely to be recycled

diapers, waste, asbestos etc.

I would be in favor of separating this into a trash or waste tag group.

amenity=recycling + recycling:medicines=yes is the one i’ve used many times for generallly white containers with symbol outside of farmacies. Most are taken inside end of opening hours.

So, we have 4 tags for the same thing waste=drugs, recycling:drugs, trash_accepted:medicines, and recycling:medicines. Now it’s even more confusing. I think it would be nice if we all agree on using one of them and document it properly on the wiki.

recycling:medicines is driven by the tagging structure of what goes into a recycling container or container group… recycling:bottles, recycling:paper, recycling:batteries, recycling:clothes et cetera and drugs are not recycled, they get you arrested and the product is incinerated.

For the avoidance of doubt, “drugs” here generally means legally prescribed medicines rather than illegal drugs (though exactly the same product can fit in both categories). However, I suspect that you are entirely correct that drugs handed in in this way are destroyed rather than reused.

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Just a few facts:

  • recycling:drugs and waste=drugs are in the Wiki

  • Neither trash_accepted:* nor *medicines appear in the Wiki

  • waste=drugs only make sense in combination with an amenity=waste* tag, not combined with a pharmacy or shop.

  • recycling:drugs is by far the oldest and most used tag

  • We do have many recycling:* tags that are not actually recycled, e.g. asbestos, diapers, shoes, toys…

I’d opt very much in favor for keep using recycling:drugs and not to change to some new tag just because it’s technically more correct. For many things you can’t tell what exactly will happen to them, just that they are collected in a specific place. The main tag should be the same for all possibilities - the exact fate of the items might be added to additional tags if known and relevant.