Safe Disposal of Unused and Expired Medications

Member safely disposes of unwanted medications.Group Health members can discard unwanted and expired medications at all Group Health pharmacies in Washington state. This program provides a secure and environmentally sound method of disposal, and provides an alternative to flushing them or tossing them in the garbage, where they end up in waterways or landfills. The program also encourages members to clean out their medicine cabinets, helping to avoid medication errors.

See the list of Group Health pharmacies for participating locations in Washington state. If you live in Washington state and there isn't a medication disposal site near you, call the Washington Department of Ecology's toll-free resource line at 1-800-RECYCLE to learn how you can dispose of medications.

This program provides an alternative to tossing unwanted medications down the drain, toilet, or in the garbage, where they end up in waterways and landfills. The pharmaceutical waste will be incinerated.

General Instructions

First, gather your unwanted medications and other approved items (see list below). Leave the items in the original containers. If you wish, mark out any personal information on the container.

Second, take the items to one of the disposal locations during regular pharmacy hours. The blue metal disposal unit is in the pharmacy's customer service waiting area and resembles a postal box. If you have questions, ask the pharmacy staff.

What You Can and Can't Dispose

Yes, you may discard these items:

  • Prescription medications (except narcotics)
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Veterinary medications
  • Medicated ointments and lotions
  • Liquid medication in glass or leak-proof containers

No, the program doesn't accept these items:

  • Needles
  • Thermometers
  • Bloody or infectious waste
  • Personal care products
  • Controlled substances (prescription narcotics)
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Empty containers
  • Business waste

Participating agencies in this effort include the Washington State Department of Ecology, Citizens for Resource Conservation, King and Snohomish counties' public health departments, and the Group Health Foundation.

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