Medicijnresten project header
Medicijnresten project header

Drug residues from Water

Project leader
Joris Galama
February 2023 - December 2023
Communication, Media, Design

In the Netherlands, about 190,000 kg of medicine residues enter surface water on an annual basis. The main route - an estimated 95% of emitted medicines - is through the human body. The rest is washed away as waste. Despite disposal of medicine residues being a comparatively small proportion of the whole, it is of great importance to motivate citizens to return medicine residues to pharmacies and/or environmental streets. After all, what doesn't get in the water, doesn't need to get out. In this project, the professorship is concerned with the question of how media concepts can be used to encourage people to bring back medicine residues to the pharmacy.


Despite the many ongoing measures taken to purify sewage, drug residues entering the water have negative effects on various ecosystems and flora and fauna. The pollution is increasingly posing risks to human health. Also contributing to the problem are the increasing ageing population, which among other things leads to more medicine use, and more extreme weather conditions due to climate change. So, there is a need to address this issue of drug residues in water.

Because water treatment cannot remain the only party committed to solving the problem, a Northern Netherlands ecosystem has been set up in which knowledge institutions, healthcare institutions, water boards, SMEs and other umbrella organisations work together on new innovations and developments. The chain partners signed the covenant for the "Medicine Residues from Water Network" in 2019 to show their willingness to work together. The submitted SNN (EFRO/Rijk subsidie) application and the resulting consortium was a concrete action of this network. This consortium is called "Innovation ecosystem Medicine residues from water North Netherlands'". The professorship joined this consortium on 1 February 2023 to investigate how media can be used to raise awareness and stimulate the desired behaviour regarding medicine residues.

Project approach

The lectorate is conducting a broad study into the behaviour of the inhabitants of the Northern Netherlands regarding the handling of medicine residues. These insights apply as a basis for follow-up research involving students from the minors Media Concepts & Sustainability, Psychology and Neuromarketing and the Master Content & Media Strategy. Experiments are being conducted with mediated behavioural interventions with the aim of motivating citizens to return medicine residues to the designated outlets. based on the behavioural determinants, an exploration of potentially promising behavioural interventions is being carried out.

Project partners:

Vital Regions

Within Vital Regions, we focus on increasing the vitality and resilience of regions. We look at the world around us from economic, social and educational perspectives.
Sustainable Development Goals

This project contributes to...