How to Donate or Recycle Expired Medications

Written by kelly gray
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How to Donate or Recycle Expired Medications
Do not throw away expired medicine. Look into donating or recycling it. (medicine image by Pali A from

Medications that have expired should no longer be used because the effectiveness of the medication could lessen over time. Medication should not be flushed down the toilet or thrown in the sink because of its effect on the soil, water and wildlife. Instead, medication that is no longer usable can be donated or recycled. A variety of options are available to dispose of expired medications in a safe way.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Clean the medicine cabinet or drawer a couple of times every year. Look at the expiration dates on all the bottles, and separate the expired medications from those that can still be used.

  2. 2

    Contact a pharmacy or doctor's office. Many times, a drug recycling program is offered to safely dispose of expired medications.

  3. 3

    Research to see if the area community has a take-back program for pharmaceuticals. This is usually a program that allows individuals to bring unused medicine to a central location. The city then handles the proper disposing of the medication, either through donation or recycling.

  4. 4

    Call free clinics in the city or area in which you live. Ask for information about donating expired medications. Sometimes these locations will accept donations to be used in other parts of the world.

Tips and warnings

  • If throwing away an expired medication, place it in a sealable bag or container with another substance such as cat litre or coffee grounds. Seal the bag tightly and place in the garbage.
  • Do not attempt to donate any medication that appears discoloured or damaged.

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