All medications applied externally or ingested have the potential to enter sewage systems and from there be discharged into aquatic environments. Concerns to date include pathogen resistance to antibiotics and disruption of endocrine systems. Pouring medicine down the toilet can be harmful to the bacteria in wastewater treatment plants.
To encourage take-back programs, please check with your pharmacy first to see if they can accept unwanted or expired medicines. Chemotherapy drugs may require special handling. Work with your healthcare provider on proper disposal options for this type of medication.
Residents can safely dispose of unused medicines at Hennepin County’s medicine drop box located in the Hennepin County District Court at Ridgedale (12601 Ridgedale Dr, Minnetonka, MN, 55305-Map). Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10 am-9 pm, Friday & Saturday: 10 am-5 pm, Sunday: Noon-5 pm
For additional drop box locations, hours, and info go to www.hennepin.us/medicine or call Hennepin County Environmental Services at 612-348-3777.
If you must dispose of your medicine at home, placement in the trash is the preferred disposal method. Please follow these tips:
It is important to manage and dispose of needles, lancets, and syringes (sharps) safely to prevent injury and disease transmission from needle-sticks. Hennepin County does not accept needles or sharps at its household hazardous waste drop off sites or medicine collection events. Please use one of the three handling methods below, as encouraged by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Purchase a sharps disposal container from a pharmacy.
Devices or containers with mechanisms that bend, break, incinerate (destroy by high heat), or shear needles are called sharps needle
Never place containers with used needles or syringes in a recycling bin or loose sharps in the garbage. Use one of the following options to dispose of the used needles, lancets, and syringes.
Some clinics and hospitals have collection programs for needles, lancets, and syringes used by their patients at home. If your healthcare provider has a collection program, learn about and follow their instructions for sharps storage and disposal. Do not bring used needles and syringes to your clinic or hospital if they are unable to accept them.
Once the needle or lancet is destroyed by heat in a destruction device,
the remaining syringe and melted metal can be safely disposed of in the garbage (not the recycling container). A needle clipper that stores clipped needles should be disposed of at a sharps collection site or through a mail-back program.
Mail-back disposal programs allow home sharps users to mail used sharps to licensed disposal facilities as a safe disposal option. There is a fee charged for this service. Check with your health care provider or pharmacist, or search the yellow pages or Internet using key words “sharps mailback.”