Medication, Pill and Pharmaceutical Disposal

Recycling Rules

No Flushing! Many of us have heard that you should flush any pills down the drain to properly dispose of them, BUT, this is actually not true! If unused prescription or nonprescription substances intended to be swallowed, inhaled, injected, applied to the skin or eyes, or otherwise absorbed are flushed down the drain, they can contaminate our water sources, causing issues for human health and our wildlife. Studies have found that exposure to even low levels of drugs in our water systems has negative effects on fish, other aquatic species, and human health.

How to Safely Dispose of Substances:

Public Drop-Off Box (No Questions Asked)The Sioux Falls Police Department offers a “Drug Take Back” program for people to drop off unused medications in the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center (320 West 4th St.) from 6AM to 10PM Monday through Friday (see photo). No questions are asked and no forms are needed.  There is a container for pills or powders, a sharps container and a container for chemo medication.  No liquid medication is accepted.

Household Trash: As a last resort, you can dispose of medication in the trash. Make sure you mix medicines  with an unpalatable substance like dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds to discourage consumption, then place the mixture in a sealed container such as a plastic bag and throw it in your household trash. If using the original container, make sure to remove any personal information.

Recycling Pill Bottles: Pill bottles can be recycled, however, if under 2 inches in diameter, they are too small for the sorting equipment and should be dropped off separately. If your other pill bottles are EMPTY, you may recycle them in your single stream bin (for large quantities, please contact us to arrange a delivery). Before you put them in your recycling bin, remove any personal information from the bottle and completely remove and separate any paper instructions, foil or paper tops (Tip: put your bottles in your freezer for awhile and the labels will peel right off!). Leave the lid screwed onto the bottle and toss it in.

Reuse Pill Bottles: You can check with your pharmacy if they accept used pill bottles, as many of them will take them back.


Have questions on something else? Check out our Where Do I Take This tool for an easy guide. If you’re wondering about the Sioux Falls Sharps and Needles disposal program, visit the city’s website to learn about the free drop off locations.