Benefits of In-Home Disposal

Protects Against Accidental PoisoningKeeping unwanted or expired medicine in your home puts your family at risk. Every year, nearly 60,000 young children end up in the emergency department because they got into medicine while their parent or caregiver was not looking. Any medicine can be dangerous if taken in the wrong way or by the wrong person, even medicine you buy without a prescription (known as over-the-counter or OTC medicine). It’s important to store medicines up and away and out of sight of children, even after every use. It is equally important to quickly get rid of unwanted or expired medicine at home. Here’s how.

Environmentally FriendlyThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency support and promote in-home disposal of medicine.

Proper disposal of unwanted or expired products is important to protect our environment. Disposing of your expired or unwanted medicines in the household trash is both safe and convenient.  It is important, however, not to flush or pour medicine down the sink unless specifically directed to do so.  While wastewater treatment plants are able to remove 95-98% of pharmaceuticals from the water, disposing of medicines in household trash is safer.

Trace amounts of pharmaceuticals can be found in waterways. They get there because we use them – we ingest and then excrete them. We detect them thanks to advances in analytical tecnhiques and increasingly sensitive instruments. It is important to understand, however, that there are no data that suggest this has an adverse impact on human health.  The amounts of pharmaceuticals and personal care products detected in surface and ground drinking water are extremely low (in the parts per billion to per trillion range) – the equivalent of a single drop in 20 Olympic-size swimming pools. In other words, the traces of pharmaceuticals in water are largely present at several orders of magnitude – more than 1,000 fold – below the lowest therapeutic dose.

Trace amounts of pharmaceuticals will always be present regardless of the disposal method for unwanted or unused medicine. Disposing of unused pharmaceuticals in the trash versus flushing them down the toilet will reduce the amount of product that makes its way into our waterways. Most U.S. solid waste landfills are lined to prevent waste from entering the groundwater and ultimately surface water.

Provides a Convenient, Year-Round SolutionKeeping unwanted and expired medicine out of your home also benefits your community. By disposing of medicine quickly, we greatly reduce the threat of diversion and give residents a quick and easy way to dispose.  In-home disposal allows consumers to avoid driving across town to “drug take-back” drop off centers; an important consideration for immobile senior citizens and other residents seeking to avoid congested traffic.