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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?

The Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office offers a free, 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 or call 2-1-1. Needles and liquids are not accepted in the drop boxes.

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.

Unwanted medicine can be safely disposed with your household trash after taking precautions to 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.

Please do not flush your unwanted pharmaceuticals.  Flushing medicines can harm our drinking water, aquatic organisms, and the environment.

Needles & Syringes

Instructions for safe needle disposal

Used needles and syringes from self-injections may be placed in the regular trash if certain precautions are followed. These precautions are designed to protect sanitation workers and other workers in the waste industry from being stuck by a needle. 

  • Place used needles and syringes in a rigid plastic container with a sealable 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 in with your recyclables.

The Ohio EPA has a guidance document for Disposal of Household Generated Sharps (updated Feb. 2013).   

For other information on needles and syringes, see