May 14, 2024

Household Medication Take-Back and Safe Disposal

EPA estimates almost every American household has prescription or over-the-counter medications. When those drugs are mismanaged, they could result in accidental poisoning or be released into the environment. In early 2024, the agency launched its household medication disposal website to help individuals safely manage unwanted pharmaceuticals.

For medications stored in a home, EPA recommends households use a locked cabinet, closet, or safe to limit improper access. When medication is no longer wanted, whether due to expiration, wasn’t tolerated, or was simply no longer needed, it should be disposed of through pharmaceutical take-back programs. These programs offer a safe and environmentally protective way to dispose of unwanted household medications and include:

No take-back options available?

While EPA encourages the disposal of unwanted medications through pharmaceutical take-back programs, the agency understands not all households have access to these disposal methods. The agency’s medication disposal fact sheet offers instructions for proper at-home disposal if no take-back program is available. Unless instructed by a label or accompanying patient information, do not flush expired or unwanted drugs down a toilet or drain.


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This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal environmental regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the environmental regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.