Providing residents with safe, convenient access to proper medicine disposal.

The SafeMeds program (formerly West Michigan Take Back Meds Program) is a joint effort between local pharmacies, law enforcement, City of Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facility, City of Wyoming Clean Water Plant and government agencies to provide residents with safe, convenient access to proper medicine disposal. SafeMeds includes many local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies accepting your unwanted medications.

Disposing of your medicines at one of these locations will ensure that your medicines will not be stolen from the garbage, will not enter our environment and eliminates the potential for abuse and overdoses at home.

Drop-off Locations

SafeMeds Program includes many local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies accepting your unwanted medications.

lbs oz

of meds taken back so far!

What Type of Meds?

Prescription Medications
Cold/Flu Medications
Vitamins/Herbal Supplements
Pet Medications
Medication Samples
Medicated Ointments/Lotions

What NOT to Do

Flush Down the Toilet
Pour Down the Drain
Throw in Garbage

What Can Happen

Pollution in Our Great Lakes
Adverse Affects on Wildlife
Contaminated Water Supplies
Prescription Drug Abuse
Theft From Home or Trash

Proper Disposal

Take to a local pharmacy
Take to a law enforcement drop-box

Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs

Medications can either be dropped off at a participating pharmacy or at a participating law enforcement office. Use our search function to find the closest one to you. Medicines must be from individuals only, not from businesses or healthcare facilities.

What will a pharmacist accept for disposal?

  • Prescription medications (non-controlled substances only)
  • Antibiotics/steroids
  • Cold and flu medications
  • Vitamins/herbal supplements
  • Pet medications
  • Medication Samples
  • Medicated ointments/lotions

What will a law enforcement accept for disposal?

  • Prescription medications (controlled and non-controlled substances)
  • Antibiotics/steroids
  • Cold and flu medications
  • Vitamins/herbal supplements
  • Pet medications
  • Medication Samples
  • Medicated ointments/lotions

How do I prepare the medication?

For both solids (pills) and liquids bring medications in their original container. Block out ALL identifying personal information on the prescription label. Do not remove the name of the medication .The pharmacist must be able to see the medication type so he/she can properly sort it. Bring the bottle to the participating pharmacist so he/she can properly sort and dispose of the medication.

What cannot be brought to a participating location?

  • Sharps – needles, lancets, syringes, epipens (see below for other options)
  • IV bags
  • Hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other flammable non-medical items
  • Aerosol Cans
  • Electronic devices – diabetes testers etc.
  • Thermometers
  • Empty containers
  • Business Waste – schools, medical offices, group homes other health care facilities
  • Chemotherapy medications

How To Dispose of Unacceptable Items

Controlled Substances

Examples of controlled substances are amphetamines, Valium, Ritalin, morphine, methadone and oxycodone. These drugs have a high potential for abuse. Current regulations allow only the patient or law enforcement to legally have custody of the drug. Medications that the DEA considers controlled substances, can be dropped off at a local law enforcement agency.

Intravenous Bags

Empty bags go in the trash (not recyclable) If the bag contains a fluid return the bag to the home care provider, pharmacy or other medical provider. They can dispose of the waste safely and properly. It is not recommended that chemotherapy agents be disposed in the trash or poured down the drain.

Household Generated Sharps

Beginning January 4, 2016, Kent County residents may request a free container from any KCHD facility. After completing a brief registration form, KCHD will issue a sterile approved container that users may take home. Once full, the container can be returned to any KCHD facility where it will be exchanged for a new one. KCHD will not accept sharps in any container that was not issued through this program.

Chemotherapy Medications

Contact the dispensing physician and pharmacy to address proper disposal of chemotherapy medications. These medications are highly toxic and designated as dangerous waste. This classification requires the medications to be handled and incinerated in a different way which is not accessible through West Michigan Take Back Meds.

KCHD facilities will issue and accept containers during normal business hours (see below) at the following locations:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday: 8:00am – 11:30am, 12:45pm – 4:45pm
1st/3rd/5th Thursdays of the Month: 12:45pm – 4:45pm
2nd/4th Thursdays: 10:00am – 12:30pm, 1:45pm – 6:45pm

  • Kent County Health Department – 700 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
  • Sheldon Clinic – 121 Franklin SE, Grand Rapids
  • South Clinic – 4700 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Kentwood
  • North County Clinic – 4388 14 Mile Road NE, Rockford

SafeChem Program

For disposal of:

  • Hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, etc.
  • Aerosol Cans
  • Mercury containing products; thermometers, batteries
  • Pesticides; Lice shampoos, flea baths & powders, insecticides
  • Nail polish & nail polish remover, perfumes
  • SafeChem Program

Acceptable To Trash

Personal care products – lotions, soap, shampoo, suntan lotion, deodorants, non-flammable cosmetics, and other non-medicated products you apply to your body.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment Rules for Business Waste: Mixed Medical Waste Guidance.

The Problem with Improper Disposal of Prescription Drugs

The Environment

Currently there are few safe and convenient ways for consumers to dispose of unused prescription drugs. Twenty to sixty percent of prescription medications go unused and are eventually disposed. Nearly all unused pharmaceuticals enter either our solid waste system or our sewage system. Neither disposal method is environmentally sound. Pharmaceuticals flushed down the toilet pass through our sewage treatment plants, which are generally not designed to screen for these chemicals. Pharmaceuticals discarded in landfills can seep into the surrounding water table. Several studies, including a 2002 analysis by the US Geological Survey of 139 streams across 30 states found that 80 percent of waterways tested had measurable concentrations of prescription and nonprescription drugs, steroids, and reproductive hormones.

It is important to remember that many of these substances are biologically active. Simply put that means the ingredients can cause problems in humans and animals.

Abuse and Overdoses

“The abuse of prescription drugs is our nation’s fastest-growing drug problem,” said Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske. Because prescription drugs are legal, they are easily accessible, often from a home medicine cabinet. Further, some individuals who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and sold behind the counter.

A federal study released in June of 2010, found that ER visits for misused prescription and over-the-counter drugs are now as common as visits for the use of illegal drugs. In 2008, the misuse of pain relievers — including oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone — led to about 305,000 ER visits, more than double the number in 2004. And this new study shows it is a problem that affects men and women, people under 21, and those over 21.

A drug overdose is the accidental or intentional use of a drug or medicine in an amount that is higher than normally used. All drugs have the potential to be misused, whether legally prescribed by a doctor, purchased over the counter at the local drug store, or bought illegally on the street. Taken in combination with other drugs or alcohol, even drugs normally considered safe can cause death or serious long-term consequences.

Children are particularly at risk for accidental overdose and account for over 1 million poisonings each year. People who suffer from depression and who have suicidal thoughts are also at high risk for drug overdose. Accidental overdose may even result from misuse of prescription medicines or commonly used medications like pain relievers and cold remedies.

Unwanted medicine disposed in the trash can be stolen and used, potentially resulting in death or illness.

Disposal Toolkit

Toolkit contains the following information:

Brochure & Flyers

Power Point Presentation

The power point slides can be used by anyone to educate themselves or others about why the community should be concerned about proper medication disposal, where medications can be taken, and how medications should be prepared for disposal.


This 5 minute video discusses why the community should be concerned about proper medication disposal, where medications can be taken, and how medications should be prepared for disposal.

Newsletter Article

This document can be reproduced in your organization’s newsletter. We ask that you remember to site the original source.

Community Partners

What is everyone’s role?

Kent County Department of Public Works

As administrator of the program, Kent County staff focus on outreach materials, services to stakeholders, and community action.

City of Wyoming Clean Water Plant

City of Wyoming staff developed the program in its infancy. Originating as Wy-Meds, the clean water plant personnel pushed for a larger and more developed program. They continue to be a major stakeholder in the program as field staff and in leadership.

City of Grand Rapids Environmental Services

With us from the beginning, the City of Grand Rapids serves as the primary contact for all pharmacies within the city limits and provides the field staff and resources for medication collection.

Kent County Waste to Energy

Making the program possible is our final destruction site. This facility, permitted by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, is authorized to accept medications for destruction.


Each and every pharmacy serves a very important role for the program and its residing community. By having weekend and evening hours and by having direct contact with residents, pharmacies provide an easy disposal solution for many residents who just have non-controlled substances.

Police Departments

Providing an integral part of the program, police departments function as the drop offs for controlled substances.

Thank you everyone for your contributions to make this program successful!

Allegan County

Allegan County Sheriff’s Department
Otsego Police Department
Plainwell Public Safety
Saugatuck/ Douglas Police Department
Wayland Police Department

Barry County

Barry County Sheriff’s Department
Hastings Police Department
Middleville Police Department

Berrien County

Berrien County Sheriff’s Department
New Buffalo Police Department
Niles Law Enforcement Complex

Kent County

Cedar Springs Police Department
East Grand Rapids Police Department
Grand Rapids Police Department
Grandville Police Department
Kent County Sheriff’s Department
Kent County Sheriff’s Department
Kent County Sheriff’s Department
Kentwood Police Department
Lowell Police Department
Rockford Police Department
Sparta Police Department
Wyoming Police Department

Muskegon County

Fruitport Police Department
Montague Police Department
Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department
Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department
Muskegon Heights Police Department
Muskegon Police Department
Muskegon Twp. Police Department
North Muskegon Police Department
Norton Shores Police Department
Roosevelt Park Police Department
Whitehall Police Department

Ottawa County

Grand Haven Public Safety
Holland Police Department
Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department – Spring Lake

How Do I Dispose of:

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