• 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.
  • Take unwanted prescription drugs to a permanent waste medication kiosk in or near your community, or to a local collection point on 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. Search online for a provider of this service.
  • For additional information, see: Disposal of Waste Medications at Private Residences