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Medication Disposal Guidelines

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Med take back_RXWhether you use a secure collection box, attend a take back event, or follow another approved method, when disposing of medications, it is important to follow these guidelines.

  • Do NOT flush medications down your toilet or pour them down sink drains or stormwater drains.  Medications can pollute our waterways and infiltrate the drinking water system.
  • Do NOT throw medications, especially narcotics and those delivered by patch or needle, into the trash.  This poses a public health hazard, particularly to children and to those who service your carts.  Disposing of narcotics in your regular trash can increase the risk of criminal activity in your neighborhood.  It can also harm wildlife who forage trash containers for food.
  • Keep all medicines and medical waste securely stored until you can dispose of it properly.
  • Leave all medications in original containers with the name of each medication visible. 
  • Remove all patient identification information by peeling off the prescription label or by blacking out the information with a permanent marker.  Remove the doctor’s and pharmacy’s contact information and any identifying prescription numbers.
  • Make sure containers do not leak.  Tighten the lids, or for items with loose or missing lids, place them in a plastic bag that can be sealed.

Why turn in medications

  • Please check our lists of what items can be dropped at our collection boxes or events and follow alternative guidelines for items we cannot accept.  Note that some items which cannot be disposed of through the City still require proper disposal under hazardous waste guidelines.  Some may require disposal under special medical waste guidelines, particularly if they are associated with chemotherapy or radioactive drugs.  Please check with your doctor, pharmacist or veterinarian for disposal guidelines for these items. 
  • Clean, unused and unopened non-medicated supplies such as toiletries and bandages may be donated to charity. Agencies which service abused women and children, foster care children and the homeless are always looking for these items. 
  • If you must dispose of medication immediately and are unable to get to a secure collection box or one of our events, please follow the FDA and FDEP guidelines in the two downloadable attachments at the bottom of this page.  They offer detailed instructions for degrading and securing the medication so that it can be more safely collected.
  • Never give medications or medical waste of any kind to a stranger.

If you are elderly, handicapped or in any way requiring of assistance to dispose of your medicines properly, please contact our City of Fort Lauderdale 24-hour Customer Service Center.

These additional resources are available for download: the FDA Guidelines for Disposal of Prescription Drugs and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Guidelines for Medication Disposal.


FDA Guidelines for Disposal of RXDrugs                           FDEP How to Dispose of Unwanted Med Flyer

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