Medications and Sharps
Mail Back Disposal Options: For Residents
mail-back and safe syringe disposal containers. The following companies offer pre-paid return service programs. In addition, most pharmacies sell FDA-approved
mail-back and safe syringe disposal containers.
FREE Sharps/Needles mail-back program for patients using Novo Nordisk medicine: California residents can visit novocare.com/needledisposal or call (877) 765-3030 to enroll.
Resources for Pharmaceutical Disposal
Download our pamphlet on what to do with Sharps! Download Here
Are unused and expired medications filling up your medicine cabinet?
Studies show that pharmaceuticals in rivers and streams, if present at high enough concentrations, can harm aquatic wildlife. When flushed down the drain, some medications are not completely removed by wastewater treatment plants. Proper disposal of unused pharmaceuticals can help protect the environment.
To address this issue, the Russian River Watershed Association (RRWA) is partnering with local agencies, pharmacies and law enforcement offices to provide Safe Medicine Disposal Program locations in the Russian River Watershed.
Items accepted for disposal include:
- Prescription and over-the-counter pills and capsules
- Liquid medications, including ointments, lotions and creams (in sealed containers please!)
- Veterinary medications
- Vitamins, supplements, homeopathic remedies
- Medical patches
- Medical samples
Items NOT accepted include:
- Controlled substances (Contact your local law enforcement agency regarding the disposal of controlled substances.) For a list of controlled substances, visit the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration
- Chemotherapy drugs
- IV bags
- Bloody or infectious waste
- Personal care products (body lotion, shampoo etc.)
- Aerosol cans
- Epi-pens and other needles/sharps
- Illegal drugs
- Medical marijuana
- Any other waste or medication not listed under “Items Accepted”
How to handle your medication that is ready for disposal:
Pills & Capsules
- Remove all pills and capsules from containers and pour into a re-sealable plastic baggie.
- Recycle empty pill containers at home in the blue recycling cart
Liquids, Ointments, Creams & Lotions
- Black out personal information on label.
- Leave liquid, lotion, ointment or cream in the original container.
- Place container into a re-sealable plastic baggie and then into the medical waste collection bin.
Medication Patches & Sample Packets
- Black out personal information on label.
- Place blister packs containing pills or capsules directly into the collection bin.
- Place patches directly into collection bin.
Syringes / Needles ("Sharps")
It’s illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps in the garbage.
Beginning on September 1, 2008, State law (Section 118286) of the California Health and Safety Code) made it illegal to
dispose of home-generated sharps waste in the trash or recycling containers. The law also requires that all sharps waste
be transported to a collection center in an approved sharps container. When thrown in the trash, sharps can injure sanitation workers.
Sharps include hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, and other devices that are used to
penetrate the skin for the delivery of medications used in the care of people and animals. Once the syringe is no
longer with the needle and no longer capable of piercing the skin, it can be disposed in the garbage assuming it’s
home-generated waste. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently only lists the “Disintegrator” as a
needle destruction device approved for use by self-injectors. Do not attempt to remove, bend, break or recap the
needle. Also, note that empty medication vials can be disposed in the garbage.
- Don’t put sharps in soda cans, milk cartons, glass bottles or in any containers that are not puncture resistant. Coffee cans are not recommended because the plastic lids come off easily and may leak.
- Syringes/needles must be in an FDA-approved sharps container.
- The only legal way to transport used sharps is in an FDA-approved sharps container.
- The container must be labeled “Sharps.”
- Don’t mix sharps with any other waste, including discarded medications or other pharmaceuticals.