October 24, 2020, is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s nineteenth National Rx Take Back Day, an opportunity for Americans to return unused drugs safely. During last year’s event, 882,919 pounds — 441.5 tons — of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs were collected for disposal. Drug Take Back Day runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time at locations across the country.
The event began in 2010 after the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that common methods for disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — posed potential safety and health hazards.
Because many people don’t know what to do with their old medication, they end up hanging onto it. Unfortunately, medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs, according to the DEA.
These take-back events do a lot to get prescription drugs disposed of in a responsible, environmentally friendly manner. Since fall 2010, the total amount collected is 10,836,030 pounds or 5,418 tons.
If you want to add to that total today, find a collection site near you.
If you have medications you need to get rid of but you missed Take Back Day, authorized DEA collectors provide year-round drop-off locations for your unwanted pharmaceuticals: Find an authorized drug collection site near you. You can also check out the Earth911 medication recycling guide for more information.
If you’ve disposed of the medication but are looking for something to do with the pill bottles, donate them to Matthew:25 Ministries, which either sends them to places where medical supplies are needed or shreds and recycles them.