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Disposing
Pharmaceutical
Waste at Home
Dispose of medications
and used needles in a
way that is safer for the
environment, your family
and your community.
Information about disposal of
pharmaceutical waste at home in a
way that is safe for the environment,
your family and your community.
Expired or unwanted medications have
traditionally been disposed of by flushing
them down the toilet. Though this method
prevents accidental ingestion, it can
pollute wastewater. Recent studies have
found concentrations of medications in
wastewater that may cause adverse effects
in fish and aquatic wildlife.
In addition, it is important to dispose of
used needles properly to prevent an injury
or disease transmission resulting from
needle-sticks.
Kaiser Permanente
North Point Tower, Suite 1200
1001 Lakeside Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
kp.org
STEP 1: SAFELY PACKAGE
WASTE MEDICATIONS:
STEP 2: DISPOSE OF WASTE
MEDICATIONS:
WHAT ABOUT USED NEEDLES
AND SYRINGES?
1.Keep the medication in the original
container.
• Black out the patient’s name to
protect private information.
To prevent waste medications and residues
from polluting groundwater, surface wasters
and marine sites, don’t flush medications
down the toilet! Sewage treatment plants
cannot remove medications from wastewater.
Alternatively, waste medications can be
disposed of in your garbage can. Ensure
that waste medications are not disposed of
in recycling bins.
2.Modify the medications to discourage
consumption:
• Add some water to solid medications
to dissolve them.
• Add salt, flour, spice or mustard to
liquid medications to discourage
consumption.
• Wrap blister packs containing
medications in multiple layers of duct
tape.
3.Seal and Conceal
• Tape the medication lid shut.
• Wrap unused IV bags, ampoules, and
vials with duct tape.
• Place the medication container into a
non-transparent container such as a
small yogurt tub.
The preferred method of disposal is to bring
waste medications to a Household Hazardous
Waste (HHW) collection site. This will ensure
the medications are incinerated and therefore
removed from the environment. Some HHW
collection sites in Ohio will accept medications.
Locate and contact your local HHW site to find
out if they will accept your waste medications:
http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dsiwm/pages/
recycpro.html
It is important to dispose of needles and
syringes safely to prevent injury and disease
transmission from needle-sticks.
Used needles should never be placed
loosely in the trash or flushed down
the toilet. Consider purchasing a needledestruction device that renders needles safe
for direct disposal in the trash. They can be
found at drug stores or on-line.
Ohio - EPA accepts used sharps at their
community waste collection. As a last
resort, sharps can be thrown in the trash
if they are properly contained. Used
needles should be placed point first into
a purchased sharps container or a rigid
laundry detergent bottle. Label the bottle,
“Do Not Recycle - Household Sharps.”
When the container is half full, seal the
container and tape it shut before disposal.