Medication & Sharps Disposal

pillsMedication Disposal

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.

Check with your pharmacy

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.

Disposal tips

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:

  • Keep the pharmaceuticals in their original container since the labels may contain safety information. For privacy, remove your name from the label.
  • Add a small amount of water to solid drugs or some absorbent material (kitty litter, sawdust, or flour) to liquid drugs to discourage any unintended use of the drug.
  • Enclose the contained drugs in a secondary small bag or other waste container. This double packaging will prevent glass containers from breaking and will hinder others from taking medication from the trash.
  • Throwing solid pills in the trash could lead to accidental ingestion by children and animals, so make sure that items disposed are as inaccessible as possible.

Safe Disposal Options for Needles and Syringes

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.

Store at home

Purchase a sharps disposal container from a pharmacy.

  • Do not store used sharps in glass bottles, aluminum cans, or coffee cans.
  • If you are bringing used sharps to a clinic or hospital collection site or using a mail-back program, follow their requirements, which may include use of a prepurchased sharps container.
  • Always keep storage containers for used sharps out of the reach of children.

Destroy at home

Devices or containers with mechanisms that bend, break, incinerate (destroy by high heat), or shear needles are called sharps needle
destruction devices.

  • A destruction device that incinerates needles and lancets can be used at home to destroy sharps immediately after use. They use a few seconds of high heat to melt needles and reduce them to BB-size balls. Previously used only in healthcare facilities, these devices are now available in smaller, less expensive models for home use. 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 cutter that automatically stores the cut needles is also useful while away from home when a disposal container is not available. A needle clipper that stores clipped needles should be disposed of at a sharps collection site or through a mail-back program.

Disposal Options

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.

1. Clinics and Hospital Collection Sites

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.

2. Home Needle-destruction Devices

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.

3. Mail-back Programs

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.”

 

Contacts

  • Solid Waste Coordinator

    952-548-6351

Helpful links