How to Recycle Unwanted and Expired Medications

While medications are not recyclable, responsible medication disposal is crucial for human and environmental health.

The easiest, and often safest, way to dispose of expired or unwanted mediation is through drug take-back or mail-back programs through pharmacies, government agencies and community groups, which will dispose of medications properly. Find a local take-back or mail-back program using our recycling locator.

If take-back programs are not an option, most medications can be disposed of in your household trash. SmaRxt Disposal recommends following these steps:

  1. Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag. If the medication is a solid (pill, liquid capsule, etc.), add water to dissolve it.
  2. Add kitty litter, sawdust or coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and children to eat) to the plastic bag.
  3. Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.
  4. Remove and destroy all identifying personal information on the prescription label from all medication containers before recycling them or throwing them away.

Responsible medication disposal has changed over the years, so it’s important to follow any disposal instructions on the medication package, which will have the most current recommendations. If there aren’t any, follow the advice above.

Frequent Medication Recycling Questions

Additional Reading