Reducing pharmaceutical residues in water: a chain approach

Leading organisations:
Dutch government


Geographic Area:
Western Europe


Tackling pharmaceutical pollution amongst many stakeholders.

Target audience:
Health Professionals, Hospitals, Hospitals/health system stakeholders, Local governments, National/Local decision and policy makers, Pharmaceutical manufacturers, Pharmacists, Waste/water treatment providers, and Water/waste service providers

Area of interest:
Emergence of anti-microbial resistance (AMR), Occurrence of pharmaceuticals in the environment, Pharmaceutical manufacturing, Pharmaceutical waste & waste management, Prescription practices, Risks to ecosystems, Wastewater, and Water treatment technologies


Action points of the Implementation Programme 2018-2022:

Development and authorisation
– Developing ‘green’ medicines
– Making environmental information available
– Environmental classification of medicines

Prescription and use
– Radiographic contrast media task force
– Potential for improvement by hospitals
– Psychotropics task force
– Knowing about pharmaceutical residues
– Tackling cytostatic residues
– Disposal of liquid medicines

Waste and sewage treatment
– Collecting pharmaceutical waste
– Learning by doing at sewage treatment plants
– Sewage treatment plants of the future
– Insight into hospital discharges
– Impact on drinking water supply

Measures across the chain
– National approach with regional impact
– Insight into impact
– Communication
– Citizen science
– Impact of the Dutch approach in Europe
– Clarity concerning veterinary medicines

Communication material:

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HCWH Europe gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the European Commission (EC)’s LIFE+ programme, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) Germany, and the German Environment Agency (UBA). HCWH Europe is solely responsible for the content of this project and related materials. The views expressed do not reflect the official views of the EC, BMU, or UBA.