Disposal of Unused Medicines
The common action people take to dispose of unused and expired prescriptions is to flush them down the toilet. The idea is that no one can get to them and abuse the drugs if they’re flushed. Proper disposal requires greater care to be taken because medicines flushed down the drain can contaminate lakes and streams, which can hurt aquatic wildlife and ultimately end up in our drinking water. Water treatment plants are not designed to remove medicines from waste water.
Unwanted medicines can be thrown in the trash if you’re careful to prevent people and animals from coming in to contact with them.
- Keep the medication in its original container. The labels may contain safety information and the caps are typically childproof. Leaving the content information clearly visible, cover the patient’s name with permanent maker.
- Modify the contents to discourage anyone from taking the medication. For pills or capsules, add a small amount of vinegar to at least partially dissolve them. Add table salt, flour, or a powdered spice such as mustard to liquids.
- Seal and conceal the medication container. Tape the lid shut with duct tape and place the container inside a non-transparent piece of trash, such as an empty margarine tub. For blister packs, wrap packages containing pills in opaque tape like duct tape.
- Throw the container in the garbage.