Disposing of prohibited items

Disposing of narcotics and other controlled substances
Several local law enforcement agencies provide permanent drop boxes for the disposal of prescribed narcotics and other controlled substances. These agencies will also collect other prescribed medications and over-the-counter drugs. For a list of participating agencies and the items they can’t accept, see the local law enforcement agency collection boxes document.
If you don’t have access to an event or program that collects prescribed narcotics or other controlled substances, don’t flush! Instead, dispose of the medications in the trash as follows:
  1. Take unused, unneeded or expired medicines out of their original containers. Mix them with an undesirable substance such as cat box filler or used coffee grounds.
  2. Remove or destroy all identifying personal information, including prescription number, on the empty medicine container labels. You can destroy personal information by covering it with black permanent marker or scratching it off.
  3. Wrap the medication mixture and the empty containers in newspaper to help conceal them, and place them in the trash.
  4. Be sure to keep children and pets away from the trash before it’s hauled away.
Disposing of needles and sharps
For safety reasons, the program and most other medication take-back events and programs can’t accept needles and sharps. For guidance on their proper disposal, see the Solid Waste Compliance Bulletin regarding infectious waste items.

Disposing of wastes generated in health care facilities
For guidance on disposing of medication wastes generated in health care facilities, please contact the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division customer technical assistance program: