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A small company based in Siloam Springs won the Outstanding Green Business Award from the National Small Business Administration's SCORE program for its goal to reduce water contamination with a small bottle that consumers can use to throw away old medicine.

Stat-Medicament-Disposal Corp., run by California-born Larry Kenemore Jr., so far does not have any sales, but the recognition from SCORE, a mentorship program for small businesses, is propelling the company to meet its goals.

"We see this award as our launching point," Kenemore said. "We have changed our whole plan of attack of how we're going to do business."

The bottles are filled with activated charcoal. When consumers are ready to dispose of pills -- vitamins, over-the-counter medicine, and prescribed drugs and narcotics -- they slip them into the bottle, where the charcoal neutralizes the pharmaceutical chemicals. When the bottles are full, consumers will send them back to the company, where they will be measured and sent to a company in Indiana that burns the contents, converting the waste into electricity.

What began in 2014 as one of Kenemore's research interests turned into a potential private-sector solution to a problem that has plagued the Environmental Protection Agency. When people throw away their old pills, they often end up in the water, whether they're flushed down the toilet or sent to a landfill. The EPA cannot solve water contamination from drugs, officials say, because their disposal is not regulated.

"Even if the bottle goes into the landfill, it's not going to end up in the water system, because they're in the activated charcoal," Kenemore said.

In September 2016, Stat-Med was assigned a mentor from SCORE. Mentors are not allowed to be paid by their clients. Mentors can help with business planning, marketing strategy and execution.

Stat-Med's mentor is Gregg Gimlin, a business consultant from Leawood, Kan., who has about 20 active SCORE clients. He said he meets with Kenemore less frequently than most clients, and describes Kenemore as someone who can run with an idea with little coaching.

"I don't have to check up on him a lot, I'll put it that way," Gimlin said. "He is very much a self-starter."

Kenemore said the company interviewed people in cities around Arkansas and California, where its majority shareholders live, and conducted about 55 water tests to map out its business plan. In the works now, he said, are contracts with about 10 cities. If they agree to the terms of the contract, city leaders will purchase a bottle for every household in the city's limits. Each bottle costs $1.10. Kenemore said there will be no direct cost to the residents.

The most likely markets for the product are retirement communities, he said.

Ingredients for the neutralizing substance inside the bottles are sourced from companies in Minnesota and Texas. The bottles are assembled at Star Industries in Russellville and at Jonesboro-based Abilities Unlimited, which employs people who have mental or physical disabilities. Three workers can build about 400 bottles an hour.

"Really what drove us to winning [the award] was using the special-needs people to build the bottle," Kenemore said.

Stat-Med is among four other companies Kenemore leads that are focused on some aspect of recycling.

Business on 09/27/2017

Print Headline: Pill-disposal bottle wins SBA honor

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