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Disposal of Medicine & Needles
What is unwanted medicine?
Unwanted medicine is any prescribed or over-the-counter medication that is expired or no longer needed for medical treatment.
How should I dispose of my unwanted medicine?
1) NEVER FLUSH UNWANTED MEDICINE
Previously, people were instructed to flush unwanted medicine down the drain. This is no longer advised now because we know that flushing medicine can harm the environment. Wastewater treatment plants and septic systems cannot remove pharmaceutical compounds from the waste water so these chemicals pass through treatment plants or septic systems into Lake Erie, the source of our drinking water. These pharmaceutical compounds also pose a risk to aquatic organisms.
2) DISPOSE WITH YOUR HOUSEHOLD TRASH
Unwanted medicine should be disposed with your household trash after taking the following precautions. These precautions will ensure the safety of children and animals and prevent misuse of the medicine.
- Keep the medicine in its original container. You may want to remove the label or conceal patient information or drug information with a marker.
- Before placing in the trash, make the medicine unusable by mixing in some coffee grounds or dissolving the pills with water and sealing the original container with tape. Liquid medicine should be placed in a sealed plastic bag.
- Place the container in durable packaging that masks the contents, such as a brown cardboard box.
- Place the medicine on your trash as close to your garbage pick-up day as possible.
3) USE A PHARMACY DISPOSAL SERVICE
CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens stores offer the Sharps Compliance Inc. medication disposal system, which allows customers to dispose of unused or expired medication via the mail. Customers purchase postage-paid envelopes for $3.99 each, fill the envelope with their unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications, and put the envelope in the mail to the Sharp Compliance’s Texas facility for disposal.
For more information or to purchase an envelope, customers should visit a CVS, Rite Aid, or Walgreens pharmacy. Controlled substances are excluded from the program.
4) USE AN RX DRUG DROP BOX
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office now offers an ongoing disposal option. The Sheriff's RX Drug Drop Box Program is an opportunity for residents to deposit unused, unwanted, or expired prescription drugs at drop boxes located at participating local law enforcement agencies across Cuyahoga County. To find a drop off location visit www.rxdrugdropbox.org, or call 2-1-1. Needles and liquids cannot be accepted.
5) WAIT FOR A FREE COLLECTION EVENT
The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors drug take-back events a couple times a year. These events are held in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies. To locate an event near you, log onto www.drugawarenessandprevention.com or www.disposemymeds.org
Needles & Syringes
Instructions for Safe Needle Disposal
Used needles and syringes from self injections may be placed in the regular trash if the following the following precautions are followed. These precautions are designed to protect sanitation workers and other workers in the waste industry from being stuck by a needle.
Requirements for Safe Needle Disposal
Place used needles and syringes in a rigid plastic contianer with a selable lid such as a Sharps container or a plastic laundry detergent bottle with a screw top.
- Seal the lid with tape.
- Place the container in your regular trash.
- Do not place the container is with your recyclables.
For more information, see www.cdc.gov/needledisposal