Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

Pharmaceutical Drug disposal is an emerging and complex issue. Many regulations apply to pharmaceuticals with respect to public health and safety and the environment. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is working with various stakeholders to find low cost, environmentally responsible ways to manage waste pharmaceuticals.

Pharmaceuticals enter surface waters from various sources including, but not limited to:

  • drugs flushed down the toilet or poured into drains
  • unmetabolized drugs excreted by humans and animals
  • surface application of manure and bio-solids
  • commercial operations and aquaculture

To date, researchers have not been able to determine the relative contribution of each of these sources. To reduce pharmaceutical-related pollution, we need to minimize and optimize the use of medications and to manage unused pharmaceuticals.

Waste pharmaceuticals include a wide variety of items, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, controlled substances and sharps. These wastes come in the form of solid pills and capsules, creams, liquids and aerosols.