Before the new federal prescription drug disposal guidelines were established many thought it was OK to flush unwanted medicines down the drain or toilet rather than keep them in their home. Some people may still be doing that. Even though it was effective in getting medicine out of the house, there is new information showing that these substances are now ending up in our drinking water.
There are many community programs that can help you to get rid of pharmaceuticals without having to flush them.
Oakland County - Operation Medicine Cabinet:
The program is sponsored by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, and has 22 law enforcement prescription drug drop-off locations throughout Oakland County. Operation Medicine Chest boxes only accept prescription drugs.
Livingston County - Big Red Barrel Program:
The barrels can be found at all State Police posts in Michigan. Needles or syringes are not accepted.
To dispose of pills, capsules, tablets, etc., at these locations bring pills in their original containers. Then remove all personal or identifying information from the bottle or packaging. Last, place the bottle, with medication still inside, into the barrel. For liquid medication leave the medication in its original bottle and cross out all personal information. Then put the bottle in a re-sealable plastic bag and dispose of it in the Livingston County Sheriff's department's Big Red Barrel.
Washtenaw County - DontFlushDrugs.com
Information from Washtenaw County on local Drug Take Back programs, including Big Red Barrel locations, where citizens can dispose of prescription or over-the-counter pills, including controlled substances, for free.
Yellow Jug Old Drugs:
Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs are accepted and the program can be found in many local pharmacies. Controlled substances are not accepted. Click here to find participating pharmacies in your area or call (989) 736-8179.
Disposal at Home – Do not flush
Federal prescription drug disposal guidelines are designed to reduce the diversion of prescription drugs, while also protecting the environment. These guidelines urge Americans to:
Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers
Mix the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, like used coffee grounds, cat litter, or old latex paint and put them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, further ensuring that the drugs are not diverted or accidentally ingested by children or pets
Throw these containers in the trash
What to do with sharps:
Sharps include syringes, needles, and lancets. These items should be placed in hard-plastic or metal containers with a screw-on or tightly secured lid, such as liquid laundry detergent bottles or metal coffee cans. To dispose of them you can do a few things. One, take them to your local Household Hazardous Waste Collection (call 734-326-3936). Two, label "Not Recyclable" on top of the lid after taping shut with heavy-duty tape. Then put it in your regular trash. Third, for recommendations and links for proper disposal, including mail-back programs click here.