California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Medication Waste Disposal

Medication Manufacturer and Collector Resources

Model Program Guidelines and the Law

Provisions of Senate Bill 966 (Simitian, Chapter 542, Statutes of 2007) govern home-generated pharmaceutical waste disposal. SB 966 required the California Department of Resources Recycling an Recovery (CalRecycle) to develop, in consultation with manufacturers, retailers, and appropriate government agencies, voluntary model program guidelines (PDF, 550 KB) for the collection and proper disposal of home-generated pharmaceutical waste. SB 966 stated, "Model programs deemed in compliance with this article shall be deemed in compliance with state law and regulation concerning the handling, management, and disposal of drug waste for the purposes of implementing the model program." Provisions of SB 966 remain in effect until January 1, 2013. For more information, go to the Criteria and Procedures Introduction page.

Report to the Legislature

SB 966 required CalRecycle to submit a report to the Legislature that:

  • Evaluated model programs for efficacy, safety, statewide accessibility, and cost effectiveness.
  • Considered the incidence of drug diversion for unlawful sale and use, if any.
  • Recommended potentially implementing a statewide program and statutory changes.

CalRecycle submitted a report to the California Legislature titled, Recommendations for Home-Generated Pharmaceutical Collection Programs in California.

Medication Waste Collected

A chart is available on pounds of medication waste that household hazardous waste programs collected and reported (PDF, 175 KB) since fiscal year 2007-08.

Resources

State and Federal Agencies

Collection Resources

(Play on You Tube)

Other Resources

  • Senate Bill 3129 (Simitian, Chapter 709, Statutes of 2012)--allows California counties to pass an ordinance, which would allow pharmacies or clinics to redistribute unsold/non-dispensed medication.
  • Product Stewardship Institute (PSI)--publications on pharmaceuticals in the environment and PSI's effort to develop a national program requiring producers to be responsible for the collection and disposal of unwanted and expired medication.
  • California Product Stewardships Council--resources, especially for California, on the problem, news and events, policy and legislation, what you can do to help, and other national and international links.
  • No Drugs Down The Drain--information on the problem of improper medication disposal, how this is affecting the environment, and its statewide campaign to raise awareness.
  • Teleosis Institute--information on why drugs are in our water, how they affect our environment, how they affect human health, why they go unused, and what we can do about this problem.
  • Earth911.com--a comprehensive database of recycling locations accepting hundreds of products throughout the United States.
  • Pharmwaste--national pharmaceutical waste management discussion listserv.

For More Information

Stay informed about the latest developments in CalRecycle’s efforts to promote safe disposal of medication waste.

Medication Waste Disposal home

Last updated: December 11, 2013
Sharps Waste Disposal Program http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Sharps/
Medication Waste Disposal http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Medications/
Contact: PharmaSharps@calrecycle.ca.gov