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Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance

Prescription and non-prescription drugs allow people to live longer, healthier and more productive lives, but did you know:

  • There is a lack of sufficient safe and convenient disposal locations for unwanted medicine in Contra Costa County?

  • As a result, unwanted prescription and non-prescription drugs are often left in homes, where they can be accidentally swallowed or misused by children, adults and the elderly, thus increasing their risk of poisoning and death, or improperly disposed of in the trash or down the drain.

  • In fact, in 2015 alone over 43% (~2800) of all calls placed from Contra Costa County to the Poison Control System concerned children who unintentionally consumed prescription or non-prescription drugs.

For these reasons and many more, Contra Costa County adopted an ordinance called the Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance (§418-16) on December 20th 2016 to establish a program for the collection and disposal of unwanted and/or unused prescription and non-prescription drugs. The ordinance draws on the concept of “extended producer responsibility” (EPR). Like other EPR laws, the ordinance requires manufacturers of products too hazardous to be disposed of through the municipal waste stream – in this case, prescription and non-prescription drugs – to take financial and logistical responsibility for their safe disposal.

By June 2018, Contra Costa County will ensure that pharmaceutical producers whose products are sold in the county have established safe and easily accessible ways to dispose of unwanted prescription and non-prescription drugs. The program for disposal of prescription and over the counter medicines will probably include public information and education events, convenient and secure drug disposal kiosks in the community, and implement drug mail-back systems for areas without easy access to other safe disposal options.

The full Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance can be found by clicking here.

This site will be used to relay information, timelines, and updates as we work toward implementation.

In the meantime, are there places I can drop off unwanted medication now?
There are several free disposal locations in Contra Costa where residents can drop off unwanted pharmaceutical drugs. California keeps a online database here that is searchable by county, city or zip code.
You can also find links to local disposal sites through our Medical Waste Management Program brochure.