Medicine and Prescription Drugs

Alternative ways to recycle
Hazardous Waste

We collect unwanted, unused medications (as well as needles and sharps) at several local sites. It’s important to keep medicine out of our groundwater, streams and oceans. Never pour medications down any drain, and do not flush down the toilet because our treatment system can’t process these chemicals effectively. Never throw them in the trash or recycling.                                                                        For drop-off sites in Santa Cruz, visit  

Note: These disposal instructions also apply to pet medications.

Resource Recovery Facility – Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off
605 Dimeo Lane, Santa Cruz 95060 | (831) 420-6270
Saturdays Only 7:30am – 3:30pm
Accepts medicines and sharps



Don’t Flush Down the Toilet

Drugs dissolve when they are flushed down the toilet and can contaminate drinking water sources.


Always Scratch Out Personal Information

To protect your identity and privacy, scratch out any identifying information before disposing of empty or filled containers. Any empty bottles can be thrown in the trash.

Alternative Ways to Recycle


Give to a DEA-Authorized Collector

Some pharmacies and law enforcement offices are registered with the DEA as authorized drug collectors. You can drop-off unused or unwanted drugs at these locations. Find a DEA-authorized disposal location.

walgreens logo

Walgreens Safe Medication Disposal Program

Select Walgreens locations now have kiosks for safe medication disposal. Find a kiosk here.


National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Each April and October the DEA hosts a nationwide drug take back day. Find a drop off location and the date of the next take back day.


Pill Bottle Donation

Donate empty plastic pill bottles to Matthew 25: Ministries for inclusion in shipments of medical supplies and for shredding and recycling.

Ways to Reuse

Repurpose Empty Pill Bottles

Put empty pill bottles to good use by repurposing them as travel containers and organizers for items such as cotton swabs, bobby pins, spare buttons, mini sewing kits, jewelry, coins, earbuds, and other knickknacks and supplies.

Did You Know?

Don't Rush to Flush Unwanted Medications - English Video

Don't Rush to Flush Unwanted Medications - Spanish Video