Pharmaceutical Waste Stewardship

Various bottled medicine pills

Pharmaceutical Waste Threatens Public Health and the Environment

Unwanted pharmaceuticals present significant public health, safety, and environmental problems when they are not properly disposed. Drugs that are flushed down the drain can contaminate lakes and streams, killing aquatic life and contaminating drinking water. Additionally, improper management can lead to an increased potential for accidental poisonings and abuse by persons for which the medication was not intended.

Safe and Convenient Disposal Options for Consumers

The Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship Law established industry-run statewide pharmaceutical and home-generated sharps waste stewardship program(s) to require safe and convenient opportunities for Californians to properly dispose of their unwanted medications and used sharps. These options will include medication take-back bins located in pharmacies and pre-paid mailing materials for sharps containers. CalRecycle expects implementation of the first statewide pharmaceutical take-back program(s) to begin in early 2022 and anticipates full implementation by late 2022.

See the Pharmaceutical Waste Stewardship Plan page for more information on the status of the program.

Find a Safe Disposal Location

Visit to locate drug collection bins near you. The California Drug Take-Back Program described on the webpage is sponsored by the California Product Stewardship Council (not CalRecycle) and is separate from the statewide Pharmaceutical and Sharp Waste Stewardship Program codified in Public Resources Code 42030-42036.4.

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