Pharmaceutical Waste Threatens Public Health and the Environment
Unwanted pharmaceuticals present significant public health, safety, and environmental problems when they are not properly disposed. Drugs that are flushed down the drain can contaminate lakes and streams, killing aquatic life and contaminating drinking water. Additionally, improper management can lead to an increased potential for accidental poisonings and abuse by persons for which the medication was not intended.
Safe and Convenient Disposal Options for Consumers
The Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship Law established industry-run statewide pharmaceutical and home-generated sharps waste stewardship program(s) to require safe and convenient opportunities for Californians to properly dispose of their unwanted medications and used sharps. These options will include medication take-back bins located in pharmacies and pre-paid mailing materials for sharps containers. CalRecycle expects implementation of the first statewide pharmaceutical take-back program(s) to begin in early 2022 and anticipates full implementation by late 2022.
See the Pharmaceutical Waste Stewardship Plan page for more information on the status of the program.
- On January 7, 2021, the Office of Administrative Law approved the Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship Regulations. The regulations were effective immediately.
- Looking for information on home-generated sharps waste? Visit the Home-Generated Sharps Waste Stewardship Page.
- SB 212 (Jackson, Chapter 1004, Statutes of 2018) was approved by Governor Brown on September 30, 2018.
Find a Safe Disposal Location
Visit https://www.takebackdrugs.org/ to locate drug collection bins near you. The California Drug Take-Back Program described on the webpage is sponsored by the California Product Stewardship Council (not CalRecycle) and is separate from the statewide Pharmaceutical and Sharp Waste Stewardship Program codified in Public Resources Code 42030-42036.4.
Resources and Contact Information
- Listserv: Click here to sign up for email updates related to CalRecycle’s oversight of the Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship Law. You can review previous messages by visiting the Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship Listserv Archive.
- Public Notices: For public notices related to CalRecycle’s oversight of the Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship Law (e.g., department decisions regarding regulations, plan approval, etc.) please visit the CalRecycle public notices page.
- CalRecycle Contact: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or more information.
- Board of Pharmacy Contact: Please contact BOPstewardship@dca.ca.gov for questions, or to submit information pursuant to sections 42031 and 42032(b)(1) of the Public Resources Code.
- California Department of Public Health Contact: Please contact MedicalWaste@cdph.ca.gov for questions.
- California Department of Toxic Substances Control: Please visit this webpage and contact PharmStewardship@dtsc.ca.gov for questions