Medication Waste

The Problem

In 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey sampled streams in 30 states. Of the 139 streams tested, 80 percent had measurable concentrations of prescription and nonprescription drugs, steroids, and reproductive hormones.

Studies show exposure to even low levels of drugs has negative effects on fish and other aquatic species, and also may negatively affect human health. This website offers guidance to help the public dispose of medication waste in a safe, efficient and environmentally sound manner, using methods that are convenient, cost-effective, sustainable and environmentally sound (PRC 47120 (a)).


Medication waste is defined as items intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in humans or other animals. Medication waste is synonymous with drug waste, pharmaceutical waste, unused or expired medication, unused or expired drugs, prescription and over-the-counter human drugs, veterinary drugs, diagnostic agents, and nutritional supplements.

For More Information

Stay informed about CalRecycle’s latest developments to promote safe medication disposal.

For more information contact: Used Oil & Household Hazardous Waste,