Gather your unwanted, unused prescription drugs for safe disposal; the next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is coming up on October 23, 2021. Conducted twice a year by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Rx Take Back Day makes it easy for Americans to return unused drugs safely. The April 2021 event collected 839,543 pounds (420 tons) of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 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 them. 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, this even has collected a total of 14,524,391 pounds (7,262 tons) of prescription drugs.
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, you can donate them to Matthew:25 Ministries, which either sends them to places where medical supplies are needed or shreds and recycles them.