MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The safe disposal of drugs not only prevents others from swiping bottles from home medicine cabinets, but it also protects the environment.

Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends.

“Sixty percent of patients in a recent survey in ‘Annals Of Internal Medicine’ reported that they’ve got leftover controlled substances, opioids in their home,” said Lee Mork, the director of pharmacy for Allina Clinics. “It’s important to find a safe and effective way to dispose of those medications.”

Many are leaving leftover medication in their medicine cabinets, risking abuse and theft. With the prevalence of opioid overdoses, a Twin Cities company has come up with a safe way to dispose of pills, called Deterra.

“It works with any organic compound and will render drugs inert and non-retrievable,” said John Mulcahy of Verde Technologies.

Deterra is a pouch loaded with activated carbon, which deactivates drugs. Just add water, your pills and let sit for at least 30 seconds.

“The pouch can then be zipped up and thrown into normal trash,” Mulcahy said.

The pouch itself is omnidegradable, meaning it can go into a landfill and will degrade over time. Instead of dropping drugs off to a disposal site or flushing them down the toilet — which puts them in the waste system — patients can be sure their medications will not end up in the wrong hands or affect the environment.

“We’re all concerned about the crisis going on in America with opioids and excess use of those, and so it’s important to limit the supplies that are out in the community and having them disposed of properly,” Mork said.

Allina Health will be giving the Deterra pouches out to patients for free starting mid-September.