Guide for Reuse, Repair, Recycling, and Safe Disposal
for Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and the City of Palo Alto

Medicine and Prescription Drugs

Medicine and prescription drugs are hazardous and unless specifically stated on the packaging, should not be put in the trash, recycling, or composting bin or flushed or poured down drains. Sharps should be placed in FDA approved sharps containers and brought to a location that accepts sharps. Read more about proper sharps disposal.

Disposal Options

  • Drop-off your unneeded drugs at self-serve kiosks for free at over 70 local pharmacies, hospitals, and law enforcement sites across Alameda County, Palo Alto, and Contra Costa County.
  • Get a prepaid Mail-Back envelope sent to your home—call Med-Project 1 (844) 633-7765 or request one online.
  • Don’t Rush to Flush provides additional information regarding proper disposal of unwanted medicines and sharps including what can and can’t go into drop-off bins.

Special Instructions

  • Pills should be poured out into clear bags (it protects your privacy and lowers disposal costs). All of your pills may be mixed together in one bag.
  • Liquids and creams: leave in their original container and secure caps/lids. Black out any personally identifying information and place in a Ziploc bag.

Controlled Substances

Prescription controlled substances are drugs that have a high potential for abuse and may lead to physical or psychological dependence. Many drop-off sites accept controlled substances alongside other medicines. For drop-off options and more information, download the HHW medicine disposal flyer.

Controlled Substances Include:

  • Narcotic pain medications such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Codeine.
  • Sleeping pills such as Valium, Lunesta, and Ambien.
  • ADD/ADHS drugs such as Concerta, and Adderall.
  • Antidepressants such as Zoloft.
  • Cough syrups with Codeine.

Donate Your Pill Bottles

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

Note: Prescription medication and controlled substances ARE NOT ACCEPTED at Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste drop-off facilities.

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