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Dose of Reality: Safe Disposal of Medications and Medical Supplies

Safely disposing of unused and expired medications and used medical supplies helps protect the people around you and your environment. There are many safe disposal options available to everyone throughout Wisconsin.

How to dispose of unused and expired medications

Keeping unused and expired medications around the house can be dangerous. If these medications fall into the wrong hands or are taken by mistake, there can be severe consequences. Keep your household safe and make it a habit to safely dispose of medications you no longer need.

Drug Take Back Day

Orange bottles on a shelf

The Wisconsin Department of Justice coordinates two drug take back days each year throughout the state. The next Drug Take Back Day is April 27, 2024.

Permanent Drug Drop Boxes

Drug disposal box

Permanent drug drop boxes are open year-round and can be found at hospitals, pharmacies, police departments, and other community locations.

Do not flush or drain unused and expired medications: Unused and expired prescription medications should never be flushed down a toilet or poured down a drain. They can contaminate our water supply.

How to dispose of medical supplies

Improper disposal of needles, syringes, and lancets can cause injuries and lead to the spread of infectious diseases. Properly dispose of your supplies by:

  • Identifying a puncture-resistant container for your sharps. Immediately after use, place your items into this container. This will reduce the risk of needle sticks or cuts from loose items.
  • Writing or placing a label on the sharps container. Be sure to clearly label the container “biohazard,” “household sharps,” “infectious waste,” or with the biohazard emblem. If placed in a container that would otherwise be recyclable, label it “do not recycle.”
  • Sealing the container and taking it to a sharps collection site. Once the container is full, make sure it is tightly sealed and secured with tape. Take it to a sharps collection site near you. If you cannot dispose of the container immediately, make sure to store it out of reach of children.

Medication and medical supplies donation program

Unused or discontinued medications and medical supplies may be donated to a participating pharmacy or medical facility to be given to people with cancer or chronic disease who are uninsured or underinsured. Learn more about this program.

Promote safe medication disposal/drug take back

Let your community know about safe medication disposal and drug take back. There are many items available to you, including audio, print, and video advertisements; email messages; flyers; posters; and social media posts.

View the marketing toolkit

Last revised January 16, 2024