Medication Disposal

Safe Disposal of Unwanted Household Medications
If we look in our medicine cabinets, we often find unused, unwanted, or expired medications. These over-the-counter and prescription medications should be disposed of properly to prevent accidental poisoning and intentional abuse, and to protect our environment. Safe disposal options are described below.
Medicine cabinet with bottles and other containers
Medicine Take-Back Programs
Local municipalities, pharmacies, and physicians may participate in medicine take-back programs. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if they will take your unwanted medications for safe disposal or call your municipal police department and ask about take-back programs. In some cases, a fee for this service may apply. Available programs that take back unwanted medications include:
  • Clinic: Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), Cape May Court House: No fee, for VIM patients only.
  • Municipal: Avalon Police Department, 3000 Dune Drive, Avalon Routine medication take-back program, no fee. Call 967-3411 for information. Lower Township Police Department, 405 Breakwater Road, Erma Project Medicine Drop Box, accepts household pills, capsules, patches, and pet medications only. No syringes or liquids.
  • Pharmacy: Rite Aid, 4201 Atlantic Ave., Wildwood: $3.95 fee applies. Village Pharmacy, 38 Tuckahoe Rd, Marmora: No fee; for current patients only.
Apart from regular medication take-back programs, police departments and pharmacies may participate in national medicine take-back days. Contact your local police department or pharmacist and ask if they have an upcoming collection day.
  • The American Medicine Chest Challenge also has national take-back days. Check their website for upcoming events.
  • The DEA holds national prescription drug take-back events. Check the DEA website for upcoming dates and collection points.
Disposal in Household Trash
If a medicine take-back program is not available, you can take precautions and dispose of medications in the regular household trash. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recommends 4 steps to safely dispose of your un-needed medications (PDF):
  1. Keep medicine in the original container when possible. Cross out personal and descriptive information on prescription bottles.
  2. Mix liquid medicine with undesirable substances, like used coffee grounds, cat litter, or dirt. Dilute pills with water, then add used coffee grounds, cat litter, or dirt.
  3. Place bottles in an opaque container, like a yogurt or sour cream container, and secure lid; or wrap in a dark colored plastic bag.
  4. Hide the container in the trash. Do not recycle.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recommends that residents do not dispose of medications in the sink or toilet. They can end up in local waterways and may contaminate drinking water.
Steps with pictures of how to dispose of medications