San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Safe Medicine Disposal for Residents

Unused medicine is a threat to both public health and the environment. Since 2003, more drug overdoses occur annually from prescription medicines than cocaine and heroin combined. Accidental poisonings from medicines in the home are also a concern for young children, seniors and pets. 


Safely and securely dispose of medicine at a drop-off site near you.  


  • Don’t flush medicines down the toilet or sink.
  • Don’t put them in the trash.
  • Don't keep unused medicines lying around.


Prepare your medicine for drop-off.

  • Pills: Mix pills in a ziplock bag or in as few containers as possible. Remove any personal information and recycle empty pill bottles in your blue cart.
  • Liquid Medicine: Tighten the lids of liquid medicines or place the entire bottle in a ziplock bag.
  • Controlled Substances: Check to see if your medicines are controlled substances. Controlled substances are only accepted at sites registered with the DEA (five Walgreens locations in San Francisco and all police stations). Download a list of Controlled Substances (PDF).

Choose your drop-off site, based on what you are disposing of. Please remember to treat our pharmacy, community center and police station volunteers with respect.

Pilot Pharmacy drop-off: When you visit one of the pharmacy sites, simply deposit your medicine in the green drop-box.

Walgreens drop-off: Five Walgreens locations in San Francisco now accept both controlled and non-controlled substances. Deposit your medicine in the stainless steel bin during pharmacy hours.

Police station drop-off: All ten SF Police Stations are accepting medicines 365 days a year as part of our Pilot Program.  You can ask the officer on duty to refer to police desk bulletin DB 14-072 if he or she is not aware of the Pilot Program.  If you visit a police station, take your medicine directly to the window. There are no green drop-boxes at the police stations.  At police stations, you will be asked for your name and address and the officer will make a list of your medicines. If you are uncomfortable giving this information, simply tell the officer that you “decline to state”.

Pharmacies and Police Stations DO NOT accept:

  • Empty or used needles and syringes - Take to any San Francisco Walgreens Pharmacy and ask to use the Free Sharps Disposal Program. Find other locations for disposal of used or unwanted needles and syringes on RecycleWhere. More information: Free Sharps Disposal Program.
  • Thermometers - Take thermometers to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility or request Home Pickup. More information: Household Hazardous Waste Facility, Home Pickup.
  • Personal Care Items - Toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, peroxide, or other non-medicated personal care products (Use up, donate or place in black cart).
  • Aerosol cans - Take to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility or request Home Pickup. Aerosol cans which are empty of all product and propellant can be recycled in your blue cart. Please remove cap and aerosol tip. More information: Household Hazardous Waste Facility, Home Pickup.

For More Information

For general questions about the Safe Medicine Disposal program call San Francisco Department of the Environment at (415) 355-3700.

Clinics, Hospitals, Doctor’s Offices

For information about disposal of medicines from a business (clinic, hospital, doctor's office), go to the Department of Public Health website or call (415) 252-3800.

Looking for Information on San Francisco’s Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance?

Information for Wholesalers, Producers, Retailers, and Repackagers (Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance) 
Information and Resources on Safe Medicine Disposal Policy

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