Medicine Disposal Information

What Can I do With Old and Unused Medicine?

Flushing medicine down the sink or toilet may be bad for the environment. Throwing it away with the trash may cause less pollution, but there is a risk that other people or animals may find it. Privacy may also be a concern if containers have labels with names and other personal information.

The following steps can be taken to more safely dispose of unused and expired medication:

  • Keep medications in the containers they came in with child-resistant lids firmly in place.
  • Remove labels before discarding the medication or use a permanent marker to cover any personal information on labels.
  • If throwing away liquids, place the liquids in a plastic bag that can be sealed in case of leaks. Wrap glass bottles to prevent breakage.
  • Mix medication with things like coffee grounds so people will be less likely to take them.
  • Add a small amount of water to pills or capsules to at least partly dissolve them.
  • Put the medication inside a package such as a box that doesn’t show what’s inside.
  • Put the medication in the trash as close to pick up time as possible – do not put in recycling bins.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Office of Sustainable Practices has a program providing guidance and assistance related to the proper management of unwanted household waste.  Click here for details.

Below is a link to a video from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy illustrating a correct way to dispose of medications. Click here to learn more.