Drugs & Medical Waste Disposal

Residential drugs/medical waste should be disposed of properly in your trash. Never place medical waste and needles in your recycling bin. Click here for a copy of the Penn Waste Medical Waste flyer.

The following information describes how to dispose of them safely: 

Prescription/Over the Counter Drugs: If no disposal instructions are given on the drug label, and no take-back program is available in your area, throw the drugs in the household trash following these steps:

  1. Remove the drugs from their original containers and crush and/or mix with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds or kitty litter. This makes the drug less appealing to children and pets, and people who may intentionally go through the trash seeking drugs.
  2. Place the mixture in a seal-able bag or container to prevent it from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
  3. Place the sealed container in your garbage bag and dispose with your trash. Do NOT flush drugs down the toilet or place in the recycle bin

Sharps or Needles: “Sharps” is a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. Examples of Sharps include needles, syringes, lancets, auto injectors, infusion sets, and connection needles. For safest disposal, contact the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority at (717) 397-9968 to obtain a free Safe Clip™, a portable device that clips and stores up to 1500 needles. Safe Clips™ are also available at most pharmacies for purchase. Once full, the device may be placed in your regular trash (not recycling).

Or, place any used Sharps or needles in a heavy plastic container (e.g. laundry detergent bottles, coffee cans, etc.) and seal it closed with Duct tape to ensure the lid does not come off. Mark the container with a permanent marker “Sharps – Not for Recycle.Place the container in your trash can or bag, NOT recycling

Used Sharps and needles are dangerous to people and pets; they can injure and/or spread infections that cause serious health conditions. Never place needles in your recycling bin. Always dispose of them safely!

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The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (FAQs) offers information on disposing of medications, needles, and other medical waste. Call them at (717) 397-9968 or download the Residents Guide to Recycling & Waste Disposal.

For large volumes of medical waste or waste materials generated at doctors’ offices, health care facilities, medical research facilities, or laboratories, contact the PA Department of Environmental Protection for proper medical waste handling instructions. Phone: (717) 787-6239; email: ra-hazwaste@pa.gov.

Unused/Outdated Medicine Disposal Program in Pennsylvania:

Participating pharmacies in Lancaster County participate in medical disposal programs. You can find more information at www.disposemymeds.org.

Permanent MedReturn receptacles have begun to be placed in secure locations around the Commonwealth for Pennsylvanians to dispose of their unused and outdated medicine in a safe and environmentally sound way. To find the closest MedReturn box, click here (Lancaster County Prescription Drug Take-Back Locations).