Where should I take my unwanted pharmaceuticals?
Since 2011, the State of Vermont has participated in Drug Take Back Days as part of a national initiative from the U.S. Department of Justice. In additional to these annual events (usually Spring and Fall of each year), a variety of sheriff stations, police departments, and pharmacies act as permanent collection sites where you can dispose of your unwanted medications year round. Call your local police department or pharmacy to see if they will accept or call 2-1-1 to find a collection site closest to you. Please also see the Agency of Health website which has a map of permanent drug disposal sites in VT.
Why should I care about bringing my unused pharmaceuticals to a drop-off location?
There are two important reasons to avoid the trash or a flush down the toilet when it comes to pharmaceuticals:
- Unwanted medications pose a health and safety risk to adults, pets, and children by creating easy access to powerful substances. It doesn't matter if they're in a cupboard or a waste bin--they can be found.
- Pharmaceuticals can have a profound effect on the endocrine systems of aquatic species and threaten drinking water supplies. Wastewater treatment plants are unable to process pharmaceuticals that arrive from household sewer systems, or in truckloads of leachate from landfills.
As a result, it is recommended that household consumers use collection locations and drop-off events for proper disposal of unwanted medications. These practices ensure that harmful chemicals are kept out of our waterways and our bodies, and are ultimately collected and incinerated instead.
Want to explore more about the issues and effects of unwanted medications? Visit these reliable resources for up-to-date information and guidance.
- VT Department of Health: Prescription and Over the Counter Drug Safe Use and Disposal
- The Product Stewardship Institute Go-to-Guide for Safe Drug Take-Back: a great breakdown of the risks and current environmental effects of poorly managed pharmaceuticals in the U.S.
- Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA): explains Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PCPPs) as pollutants to the environment
- Drug Enforcement Agency (U.S. DEA): Provides two collections a year and offers drug disposal fact sheets