Unwanted Medication

Why is it important to dispose of unwanted medication properly?

Unwanted medication should never be flushed down the drain. Wastewater treatment plants are designed to remove solids and conventional pollutants from water—not pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals have been detected at low levels in streams, lakes, and rivers across the U.S.

Unwanted medication should also never be placed, as is, in the trash.  Medications left in original containers and placed in the trash as-is could potentially fall into the wrong hands. When it comes to disposing of unwanted medication properly, you have a couple choices: 

Drop-off

There are permanent drop-off locations for unwanted medications at many RI police stations (note that some are for town/city resident use only).

Most are part of the MedReturn program, and do NOT accept: liquids, lotions, ointments, aerosols, or sharps. For instructions on home disposal of these items, refer to the information below the chart. 

Municipality   Address   Residents Only   Program
             
Bristol Police Department   395 METACOM AVE   NO   MedReturn
Barrington Police Department   100 FEDERAL ROAD   NO   MedReturn
Burrillville Police Department   1477 VICTORY HIGHWAY   NO   Other
Charlestown Police Department   4901 OLD POST ROAD   NO   MedReturn
Cumberland Police Department   1380 DIAMOND HILL ROAD   NO   MedReturn
Foster Police Department   182 HOWARD HILL ROAD   NO   MedReturn
Hopkinton Police Department   406 WOODVILLE ROAD   NO   MedReturn
Johnston Police Department   1651 ATWOOD AVE   NO   MedReturn
Lincoln Police Department   100 OLD RIVER ROAD   NO   MedReturn
Little Compton Police Department   60 SIMMONS ROAD   NO   Covanta
Middletown Police Department   123 VALLEY ROAD   NO   MedReturn
Narragansett Police Department   40 CASWELL STREET   NO   MedReturn
North Kingstown Police Department   8166 POST ROAD   YES   MedReturn
Providence Police Department   325 WASHINGTON STREET   YES   MedReturn
Richmond Police Department   1168 MAIN STREET   NO   MedReturn
Tiverton Police Department   20 INDUSTRIAL WAY   NO   Other
Warwick Police Department   99 VETERANS MEMORIAL DRIVE   NO   MedReturn
Westerly Police Department   60 AIRPORT ROAD   NO   MedReturn
Woonsocket Police Department   242 CLINTON STREET   NO   MedReturn

Mail-In

You can also purchase pre-paid envelopes for mail-in return at major pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist. 

At Home

The RI Department of Health and the RI Department of Environmental Management have also approved a method for disposing medications safely at home. The steps are listed below:

  1. Take the medicine (prescription or over-the-counter) out of its original containers.
  2. Crush tablets or pills. Liquids, gels, ointments, or creams can be mixed with cat litter or used coffee grounds.
  3. Put the medicine into a disposable container with a lid or into a sealable plastic bag.
  4. Remove any personal information (including Rx number) on the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker, or by peeling it off.
  5. Place the sealed container or bag in the trash. 
  6. Place the empty drug containers in the recycling.

Needles

Never place needles or containers of needles in your recycling bin or cart.  For proper disposal methods see www.rirrc.org/needles.