Alameda County’s Online Guide for Reuse, Repair, and Recycling

What do I do with:



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

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 our Oakland, Livermore, and Hayward Household Hazardous Waste drop-off facilities.


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