Household Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

Aware of the need to properly manage the disposal of household pharmaceuticals, the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (DEP) has established a guidance
. To complement this document, Kentucky Division of Compliance Assistance has developed an online learning module entitled “Household Pharmaceuticals,” which discusses the available collection programs, who regulates pharmaceutical waste, how to determine if a material is considered a household pharmaceutical waste and the options available for appropriate disposal.

Click on image to access video

Household pharmaceuticals, whether prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), that are left accessible in homes or in recoverable forms in the trash, become susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. When a medication is no longer needed, has expired or otherwise becomes a waste, there are specific programs for disposal and recommendations for making pharmaceuticals unrecoverable and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

The primary reason for household drug collection programs is to prevent exposure of potentially harmful chemicals to humans and the environment. Although households are exempt from many hazardous waste regulations, it does not mean that the wastes are nonhazardous. In fact, many can be quite harmful.

To dispose of household pharmaceuticals through a program, visit and select “Prescription Drug Drop Box Sites” located on the left side of the page. The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy maintains a map of counties that have permanent drop box locations and additional resources for medication drop box locations. Short-term or one-day take-back programs also exist.