23 Oct

Recycle Drugs, Recycle Medicine – Disposing of Medicine Properly

Posted by Norman F

dual flush toilet from Toto

October 27, 2018 10am – 2pm local time, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The DEA is promoting this day for people to turn in your unused or expired medication for safe disposal. They have a local collection site locator on their website. Over 5600 sites will take back items. Several cities near me are participating with most drop of locations at police stations. Last year 324 tons was taken back and recycled.

Pennsylvania and Delaware had their events early in September 2015.

It is important to recycle drugs and recycle medicine properly.

Local Drug Take-Back Programs

Shouldn’t the source of prescription drugs, simply take them back? How about it Walgreens, CVS!

Alameda Country near San Francisco became the first area in 2014 to require pharmaceutical companies to pay for a drug take back program.

San Francisco is attempting to follow in their footsteps. San Francisco already has several dozen drug stores with bins to take back old medications, but tax payers are footing the bill.

How Not to Dispose of Drugs and Medicine

You should not:

  1. Flush it down the drain
  2. Give it away to a friends
  3. Throw it in the trash
  4. Take it back to where you bought it

We all have heard of traces of drugs in the water system. It is time to make sure no one contributes to this any more by flushing expired or unused medicine down the drain. Wastewater treatment facilities aren’t designed to remove pharmaceuticals but someday may need to be.

Many local police departments take medicine waste as do many pharmacies.


  • Personal and Beauty Care Items – Toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, peroxide, or other non-medicated personal care products – Trash these
  • Aerosol cans – Take to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility or request a Home Pickup. Aerosol cans which are empty of all product and propellant can be recycled in your blue cart. Please remove the top cap and aerosol tip first.
  • Needles – Syringes and Epi-Pens have special disposal guidelines.

FDA has some guidelines, some of which seem outdated.

NoDrugsDownTheDrain.org has a locator to help you find places to properly dispose of medicine.

Chemicals from medicines have been even measured in water from sewage treatment plants.  Our waste has traces of these chemicals and chemicals from cosmetics wash off from our skin as we shower.  This will be hopefully someday addressed.

DisposeRX makes packets of powder that when mixed with water and a drug, turn them into biodegradable gel. Walmart is giving these out.

DisposeRx drug destroying gel uses proprietary, patent-pending technology made of solidifying cross-linking chemical polymers that permanently sequester all medications. The components used in manufacturing the DisposeRx polymer are safe and listed in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) Inactive Ingredient Database, and they are found in foods, oral drug products, are safe to ingest if accidentally exposed, and are enviromentally friendly.

Expired Drugs

A recent study by UCSF found that 86% of expired drugs that were 28 to 40 years old, were still potent.  Aspirin and Amphetamine fellow below te 90% reasonable variation allowed by the FDA.

Better Health Pharmacy – Distributing Donated Medicine

Better Health Pharmacy in San Jose, California dispenses medicine to anyone in need with no cost. No controlled substances like narcotic pain meds.  You need to have a valid prescription of course.

They get their medicine from health facilities and wholesalers who would otherwise have to incinerate the unneeded pills. This was allowed after a law was passed in California in 2005. What a great idea.

The volunteers that run it are retired pharmacists, college students, and others.

Ohio, Oregon and Colorado also have similar free standing pharmacies.

China Trash Can Chinglish – Lost in translation

Trash can in China with bad translation, Chinglish

Here is an interesting trash can we encountered deep in the heart of China. Glad to see they are pushing recycling. Not sure why they choose Organism for Trash… Hopefully it was not due to tossing out organic matter.

Posted on October 23rd, 2018
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2 Responses to “Recycle Drugs, Recycle Medicine – Disposing of Medicine Properly”

  1. Patience is the Best Medicine, Healing using body's power | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] Also dispose of medication properly. […]

  2. hazardous waste Long Beach Says:

    Expired medicines should be disposed properly for safety. However most people do not follow this practice and just flush it causing damage to water systems. It is good to note that there are agencies that they can contact for the safe disposal of unused or expired medicine so that our water systems can be protected.

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