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Last Resort Disposal Instructions

Medicine take-back is the safe way to dispose of unwanted medicines, but until a statewide program is created some residents don't have a safe disposal option. These disposal instructions are the Last Resort option.

Taking your unwanted medicines to a take-back program is the safest and most environmentally protective way to dispose of them.  Temporary take-back programs are operating in a few counties, and are the right way to dispose of medicines.  Unfortunately, Washington does not yet have a statewide medicine take-back program, so people in many communities do not have safe drug disposal available to them. If no take-back locations are available to you, follow these "last resort" steps before carefully disposing of your medicines in the trash.  Disguising your medicines before disposing them in the garbage is critical to prevent a child, teen or pet from getting the medicines and accidentally ingesting them.

Last Resort disposal instructions, if a medicine take-back location is not available:
For chemotherapy drugs, contact your prescribing medical office as they may accept return of those medicines.
For all other drugs:

  1. Do not flush medicines down the toilet or drain.
  2. Keep the medication in its original container.
  3. To discourage consumption of the medicines, add something unappealing, such as kitty litter or coffee grounds. Do not crush the pills.
  4. Tape the container lid shut with tape, place in a sealable bag, and then place in a non-transparent container to ensure that the contents cannot be seen.
  5. Discard the container in the garbage. Do not place in the recycling bin. Make sure your trash cannot be accessed by children, pets, or others who might be looking in the garbage for drugs.


Trash disposal is a "last resort" - it does not adequately protect people and our environment from exposure to potentially dangerous drugs.
See what these concerned Washington State organizations have to say about "A Safer Way to Dispose of Household Medicines" 

Communities across Washington deserve a safe way to dispose of medicines that protects our kids, families, and environment.  We need access to secure and effective medicine take-back programs.


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