Medication – prescription and over-the-counter

How can Kent County Department of Public Works help? Explore the best option below for the item you are trying to get rid of.

Donate or Reuse
Special Collection Recycling
Proper Disposal

Depending on the type of medication, there are Community Disposal Outlets listed below that can repurpose some products, like insulin (sealed, refrigerated, unexpired).

Prescription medication should never be shared and should never be consumed without your doctor’s approval.

Medication should never be composted.

Medication, pharmaceuticals, and hygiene products should not go in your curbside single-stream recycling cart as those products can leak onto other recyclables and contaminate them.

HOWEVER, empty pill bottles and containers can be placed in your recycling cart to be recycled. Labels are okay to stay but you can use a marker to black out your information if it makes you feel better about to ensure confidentiality.

Special Collection Recycling Only does not apply to medication disposal.

Responsibly disposing of your unwanted or expired medicines at a FREE, participating SafeMeds Drop-Off location will prevent drug abuse, overdose, and environmental damage. DO NOT flush any medication down the toilet/drain or throw medication in the trash as it could have detrimental impacts on public and environmental health.

Improper disposal of pharmaceuticals and medication, including tossing them into the trash, can to lead to a variety of severe problems for our community members and the environment surrounding us. These problems include but are not limited to prescription drug abuse/addiction, overdose, death, contamination of our waterways, additional clean-up and processing costs for municipalities, and overall poor human and environmental health. Only by disposing of these medications properly, can we keep our friends, family, community, and environment safe.

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.

The SafeMeds program is a joint effort between local pharmacies, law enforcement, wastewater treatment facilities and Kent County to provide residents with safe, convenient access to proper medicine disposal. SafeMeds participants include many local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies that will accept 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 at home.

Community Resources

Below you will find businesses and community outlets that may accept this item/material.

Department of Environmental Quality

Medical Waste Regulatory Program Information

Learn More

Kent County Sheriff’s Department
701 Ball Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Accepts ammunition and unneeded medication.

**Must be a Kent County resident to use this service.

Learn More

SafeMeds (formerly West Michigan Take Back Meds Program)

A listing of local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies accepting unwanted medications from residents for proper disposal.

Learn More

Related Materials