Medication disposal

Learn how to safely throw away old medicine.

Business medical waste

If you're a business that generates medical waste contact the County's Medical Waste Program at (408) 918-3400 or view the Medical Waste Management Program page.

Unwanted medication disposal

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50 percent of Americans take one prescription drug. The lack of sufficient safe and convenient disposal locations for unwanted drugs creates significant risks to human health and to the environment. As a result, unwanted drugs are often left in homes where they can be accidentally ingested or abused by children, adults, and the elderly, increasing the risk of poisoning, addiction, and death. Unwanted drugs are also thrown in the trash where they can be leached into the ground and flushed down toilets where the complex compounds are not removed from the water supply.

Recognizing this growing problem, the County of Santa Clara began working on a collection program for unwanted pharmaceuticals in 2008. This program initially consisted of collecting unwanted pharmaceuticals at the County’s household hazardous waste collection events and 13 secure drop boxes located at County pharmacies and Sheriff’s stations. The limitations of this program, led to the development of the Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance.

On May 19, 2015, the Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance (No. NS-517.89) was passed by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Santa Clara. The Ordinance requires pharmaceutical producers to develop a Product Stewardship Program to finance and manage the collection, transportation, and disposal of unwanted medicine from Santa Clara County residents. On June 23, 2015 a second reading of the Ordinance, which included a Stewardship Plan, was received and adopted by the Board. The Safe Drug Disposal went into effect on July 23, 2015.

The MED-Project is a stewardship group established by the pharmaceutical manufacturers to implement the program throughout California, including Counties of Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara County. Currently, there are over 100 kiosks located throughout Santa Clara County.

Inmar Intelligence + LifeInCheck (Inmar) is a second stewardship organization representing other pharmaceutical manufacturers to implement the program in Santa Clara County. Currently, there are over 150 mail-back distribution sites and 14 drop-off kiosks throughout Santa Clara County.

Find drop-off locations for medication

History of Ordinance

  • 5/19/2015 - Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance introduced and passed at Board of Supervisors meeting
  • 6/23/2015 - Second reading of Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance (No. NS-517.89) adopted
  • 7/23/2015 - Ordinance went into effect
  • 4/11/2017 - Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance (No. NS-517.91) amended and adopted