Safe Disposal: Learn The Facts



In 2014, 32% of Utah adults had been prescribed an opioid pain medication during the last 12 months.  Of these, 59% reported having leftover medication.  In 2008, 72% reported having leftover medication.  Of those who reported having leftover pain medication, 68% reported that they had kept the medication.

It is important to safely dispose of unused or expired medications. The resources below provide important information about medication disposal in the community or in your own home.

For The General Public 

Safe disposal saves lives and the environment. The two safest disposal methods are:

  • Permanent Disposal Bins – Permanent community collection sites are located across the state.
  • Community Take-Back Events – Prescription Drug Take-Back events aim to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.  These events are held across the state and are often referred to as “Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet” or “Household Hazardous Waste Collection.”

Both of these options are FREE.

If you cannot find or access the options above, you can also follow the steps below to dispose of most medications in your household trash (consumers are advised to check their local laws and ordinances to make sure medicines can legally be disposed of with their household trash):

  • Mix medications (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with items such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds; prior to putting in the trash, place the mixture in a sealed device (e.g., plastic bag).
  • Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medication packaging, scratch out all information on the prescription label.

If you are still unsure of proper disposal options, call your medical providers, pharmacists or Utah Poison Control Center, 1-800-222-1222.

For Hospitals, Pharmacies and Other Businesses

Hospitals, pharmacies and other businesses generating pharmaceutical was generally cannot use take-back program or events, in addition to community permanent disposal bins, to dispose of expired, unwanted or unused pharmaceuticals.  Healthcare facilities and healthcare-related businesses that generate pharmaceutical wastes are responsible for appropriately managing their wastes in accordance with all local, state and federal environmental regulations.  This includes the rules for managing hazardous wastes if the wastes generated are for hazardous waste.



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