• May infect other people who come in contact with trash.
  • Unwanted or expired medicines or pharmaceuticals could be harmful to children or adults.
  • Antibiotics poured down the drain can kill beneficial microbes and bacteria in septic systems and may adversely affect fish and other marine organisms.


  • Keep sharp objects such as needles, syringes, and lancelets in secure containers out of the reach of children. Do not use glass.

Management Options

  • By law, once a prescription has been issued, the pharmacy cannot take it back.
  • See: Disposal of Waste Medications at Private Residences
  • Take advantage of the next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day .
  • Individuals who have received cancer treatment drugs or radioactive medicines should follow specific instructions issued by the hospital on disposal of radioactive waste materials.
  • Place disposable sheets, medical gloves, and soiled bandages in plastic bags and securely close before you put them in the trash.
  • For information on disposal of medical sharps such as needles, syringes and lancets, as well as a listing of local collection sites in Massachusetts - including municipal offices, hospitals, medical practices and pharmacies - see the Department of Public Health Guidelines: Proper Use and Disposal of Needles and Syringes
  • If no sharps collection program is available, purchase a postage paid mail-back container to have your sharps disposed through a medical waste incinerator. Several companies have sharps mail-back programs, providing containers and prepaid mailing cartons in a variety of sizes. When containers are full, they can be placed in their cartons and mailed directly to the designated facility for incineration. Check the Yellow pages or search online for a provider of this service.