Health Department

Proper Medication Disposal

SafeMeds & SafeSharps Drop-Off Locations »

Welcome to the West Michigan Take Back Meds Safe Medication Disposal Toolkit. This toolkit was developed as a joint project by the Kent County Department of Public Works and the Kent County Health Department to educate the community about the proper way to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications.  Funding to create the toolkit was provided by the 2012 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Community Pollution Prevention Grant Program.

Reasons for not using all medications

People may not always use all of their medications. As a result, some might remain in their medicine cabinets and eventually expire.

  • Package contains more medication than needed (e.g. over-the-counter or prescription medicines bought in bulk)
  • Improvement of the medical condition
  • Medication discontinued due to side effects or lack of improvement
  • Death

These are the concerns

Improperly disposing of unwanted medications either by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash represents an emerging concern for the environment and public health.

  • Medications that end up in landfills eventually seep into the area ground water.  Those flushed down the toilet pass through the sewage treatment plants and then are released into the waterways.
  • Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem particularly with teens and young adults. The medications are legal and easy to get. They often come from home or the home of a relative or friend. Many who misuse these drugs mistakenly believe they are safer than illegal drugs.
  • Medications thrown in the trash can be stolen and used possibly causing illness or death. Children and pets could find them which could lead to unintentional poisonings. Medicines thrown away with personal information on the labels could result in identity theft.

West Michigan Take Back Meds Safe Medication Disposal Toolkit

Toolkit contains the following information:

A Note About Household Generated Sharps

Improperly discarded medical sharps can injure family members, animals, waste management workers and end up in places where they are a danger to the public. These sharps are a hazard because they may be contaminated with disease causing bacteria or viruses. The West Michigan Take Back Meds Program DOES NOT accept sharps (needles, lancets, syringes, or epipens). 

For information on how to safely dispose of these items, please visit the following sources:

Additional Resources

  • PACT360 Rx Action Toolkit
    PACT360 Rx Action Toolkit is a community education resource that can be used by professionals from law enforcement, prevention and treatment, as well as by any concerned adults who want to share information about medicine abuse with their friends, family, neighbors and organizations to which they belong.
  • Up & Away & Out of Sight
    Up and Away and Out of Sight is an educational program to remind parents and caregivers of young children about the importance of safe medication storage and what to do in case of an emergency. It is an initiative of PROTECT, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation, and a coalition of partners.
  • Medicine Abuse Project
    The Medicine Abuse Project aims to prevent half a million teens from abusing medicine within five years by bringing together families, communities, industry, health care professionals, educators, law enforcement and government officials to curb teen medicine abuse, and ultimately save lives.
  • Top 10 Human Medications That Poison Our Pets
    Top 10 Human Medications That Poison Our Pets - The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has compiled a list of the medications most likely to be ingested by pets.

The West Michigan Take Back Meds Program is a joint effort between local pharmacies, law enforcement, wastewater treatment facilities, and government agencies to provide residents with safe, convenient access to proper medicine disposal.


holland board of public works
Holland Board of Public Works

city of wyoming
City of Wyoming

city of grand rapids
City of Grand Rapids

County of Kent & Kent County Health Department

mich dept of environmental quality
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality