Medical Waste

Pharmaceuticals/Prescriptions

Prescriptions

Facts

  • Used prescription drugs thrown in trash can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold.  
  • Unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, leading to accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse.  
  • Used prescription drugs that are flushed can contaminate the water supply.
  • The majority of teens abusing prescription drugs get them from home medicine cabinets.  

Safe Disposal

Now you can safely dispose of unwanted, unused, and/or expired medications!

There are four "Drug Drop Box" locations in Orange County for residents to drop-off medications and prescriptions.   Hours are 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday (excluding holidays) at all locations.   

Locations 

  • Carrboro Police Department
    Century Center, 100 N Greensboro St., Carrboro, 27510
    Phone: 919-918-7397
  • Chapel Hill Police Department
    828 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Chapel Hill NC, 27514
    Phone: 919-968-2760
  • Hillsborough Police Department
    127 N Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278
    Phone: 919-732-9381
  • Orange County Sheriffs Department
    106 E Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC
    Phone: 919-644-3050

Guidelines

Drug drop boxes are intended for liquid and pill medications.  Liquid medications must remain in original containers.  PLEASE SEAL MEDICATIONS IN A CLOSED ZIPLOC BAG.  Pill medications may remain in original containers or be placed in a sealable plastic bag.  Do not drop loose pills.  

Please remember to remove all identifiable information from containers or packaging prior to disposal.  

Acceptable Items:  

  • Liquid Medications
  • Medicated Ointments and Lotions
  • Medication samples
  • Over the Counter Medications
  • Pet Medications
  • Expired or Unused Medications

Unacceptable Items: 

  • Bloody or Infectious Waste
  • Empty Containers
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • IV Bags
  • Personal Care Products
  • Thermometers
  • Needles/Lancets/Syringes

If you are unable to safely dispose of prescription medications at the four locations above, please follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicine in your household trash:  

  1. Mix medications (liquid or pills, do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds.
  2. Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
  3. Remove all identifiable information on the prescription label or medical packaging. 
  4. Place empty bottle or packaging in trash or recycling container (if made of acceptable material).  

Needles/Lancets/Syringes

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Approximately 800,000 needlestick injuries occur in the U.S. annually. Sanitation and recycling workers all suffer when needles are disposed of improperly.  To help protect workers, please see North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Flyer on Safe Needle Disposal (PDF).