Medication and Medical Sharps Disposal

Protect your family and the environment by making sure medications and medical sharps are properly handled, stored, and disposed of.

  • Medications have been detected in rivers, waterways, and groundwater. Wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to filter out these chemicals, so they may show up in drinking water.
  • Many children are accidentally poisoned each year by items found in the home. Studies also show that individuals who abuse prescription drugs often get the medications from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. 
  • Medical sharps, including needles, syringes, and disposable lancets are dangerous in household trash. 

Medication Disposal Network

Medication take-back is the safest option for medication and medical sharps disposal.

Washtenaw County’s Medication Disposal Network shows where to dispose of expired and unwanted medications and medical sharps- for free! The medication takeback disposal network includes pharmacies and law enforcement locations. 

Click the button below to view the Medication Disposal Network Map. This map includes information on what products are (and are not) accepted, how to package your items, and where the drop-off point within the location is. 

To help ensure you are not turned away, please verify that a location is operating and can take your items prior to arrival. Medication Disposal Map Button Opens in new window

Pharamacy location information

The items below are usually accepted at participating pharmacies. If you have items that are not prescription or over-the-counter pills, check ahead to confirm prior to arrival.

Acceptable Materials

Unacceptable Materials

  • Antibiotics
  • Cold and Flu Medications
  • Medicated Ointments / Lotions
  • Medication Samples
  • Medications for Pets
  • Non-Controlled Drug Enforcement Agency Drugs
  • Over-the-counter Medications
  • Prescription Medications
  • Steroids
  • Vitamins

Big Red Barrel Location Informationbigredbarrelpicture

The "Big Red Barrel" program invites people to safely dispose of prescription or over-the-counter pills.  Controlled substances like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet are disposed of for FREE. This program is a partnership with local law enforcement agencies. 

Pills ONLY accepted at Big Red Barrel locations – NO LIQUIDS, NO SYRINGES.

Medical Sharps

Medical sharps are needles, syringes with attached needles, and disposable lancets. Although it is legal to place household needles and sharps containers in the trash it is not the safest option. 

Disposal Guidelines

Step 1 - Purchase a medical sharps container from a pharmacy. These containers are puncture-resistant and can hold 30-300 used sharps, depending on the container size. Keep the container stored safely away from children and pets. 

Step 2- Place used sharps in the sharps container immediately after use. When the container is full, tape the container shut.

Step 3- Take the full container to a disposal location. 

Additional Resources

Poison help  1800 222 1222

Poison Control

Poison Control Website
Phone: 800-222-1222