How to Dispose of Prescription Bottles?

Prescription bottles contain your personal information. Therefore, it’s crucial to dispose of it properly to prevent identity theft.

Therefore, this article explains how to dispose of prescription bottles in an appropriate manner.

In addition to that, it’s important to know what to do when you still have some medicine that you no longer need.

Steps on How to Dispose of Prescription Bottles

It’s not a good idea to always dump old prescription bottles in the trash.

Most prescription bottles and lids are made of recyclable plastic.

Therefore, you can give them to various centers to have them recycled. You can help reduce filling landfills with trash on the planet by recycling than trashing it.

That said, it can be dumped in the trash after cleaning. Here are some steps for the proper disposal of prescription bottles.

Step 1. Remove All of Your Personal Information

Most prescription bottles contain vital personal information. This information includes your full name, your date of birth, the name of your health care provider, and the type of medicine.

It’s in your best interest to scratch out these details before disposing of or recycling the bottles.

This information can be misused. So, you could be a victim of identity theft if you’re not careful.

Someone could also use the prescription bottle and the information to access addictive medicines. So, you’ll help yourself and others by removing this personal data.

How to Remove Your Personal Information

Here’s how to remove your personal information from the prescription bottle.

Remove the Label

The best thing you can do is try to remove the label entirely. It’s likely stuck onto the bottle with adhesive. So, you can remove it with a bit of force.

That said, be sure to use your hands instead of a metal tool. This way, you’ll prevent damaging the bottle in the process.

If you cannot remove the label with your fingers, fill your sink or a bowl with warm water. Make sure that the temperature is high enough to stay warm for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Next, place the prescription bottle into the water. If you have more than one bottle, place all of them in the water at once to save time.

This process may weaken the adhesive of the label, allowing it to come off. If it’s still not coming off, use a plastic fork or another similar tool to peel it off.

If that doesn’t work, it may help to use a bit of vegetable oil or essential oil to weaken the adhesive.

Be sure to use only a moderate amount so that the bottle is not covered in oil.

Removing the oil can become cumbersome for you. Once the label is off, tear it into pieces and trash it.

Use a Pen to Scratch the Details

You could reduce your work by simply using a pen to scratch out your personal details from the label.

However, you will be leaving it up to the recycling facility to do that work.

So, a little effort on your part can help reduce the workload of recycling professionals.

Step 2. Get Rid of Unused or Expired Medicines before Disposing of the Bottle (If Applicable)

In some rare cases, you may still have some extra prescription drugs that you don’t need. These may be expired or unused.

If you don’t have any unused or expired medicines, you can skip this step.

So, you will, of course, need to get rid of the medicine before you can dispose of the bottle.

Determine If the Medicines Can Be Flushed

You must first determine if the medicines are okay to flush down the toilet or not.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a list of flushable drugs.

Consult the FDA Flush List of Medicines

Therefore, it’s best to consult that list before taking any action. If your medicine is included in the flush list, you can dump them in the toilet.

Flush those meds won’t harm your plumbing or the environment.

You should also note that even expired medicines from this list are safe to flush.

Follow Appropriate Disposal Guidelines for Medicines That You Cannot Flush

There are also medicines that you cannot flush.

In that case, you will need to follow a specific set of instructions mentioned below.

Step 1. Mix the Medicines with Dirt, Coffee Grounds, or Cat Litter

You can mix your unused or expired medicines with dirt, coffee grounds, or cat litter. Make sure not to crush any capsules or tablets.

This step is for both liquid and solid medicines.

The purpose of using such materials in the mixture is to make it less appealing to children or pets.

There’s always a risk that your children or pets may go through your trash.

Consuming medicines they shouldn’t consume could harm their health significantly, depending on the medication type.

So, there’s no reason to take unnecessary risks.

Step 2. Put the Mixture in a Sealed Container

Put the mixture in a plastic bag or any other sealed container. Make sure that it’s secure so that the contents don’t escape the container during handling.

Considering you’re dumping the container in the trash (see next step), try to use something that will have minimal impact on the environment.

It can be a good idea to use a regular trash bag that you can seal or tie a knot on.

If you feel one bag may not be secure enough or tear, place another bag over it. After that, tie another knot to prevent leaks.

Step 3. Dispose of the Container

Once you’re positive that the contents are secure in the container, you can dispose of the bag in your home’s trash.

After that, you can resume getting rid of the prescription bottles.

Step 3. Clean the Prescription Bottle

Regardless of where you’re recycling the prescription bottle, you must first clean it thoroughly. Wash it so that there’s no residue of medicine in the bottle.

This step is also important if you decide to throw away the bottle in the trash.

It ensures that you limit any negative environmental impact as some medicines may react with other elements in the trash.

Step 4. Take the Prescription Bottle to Your nearest Pharmacy, Hospital or Any Plastic Recycling Center

As mentioned above, recycling your empty prescription bottles is better for the environment than trashing them.

Fewer bottles will need to be manufactured if recycling is common.

Therefore, there are three options you can consider for recycling.

Consider Your Nearest Pharmacy

The first is to take your empty prescription bottles to your nearest pharmacy.

There are a few pharmacies that accept bottles as long as they are in good condition.

Some may have disposal boxes for prescription bottles at the pharmacy. So, you can simply dump your bottles there.

The professionals there will inspect the bottle’s condition later and determine if they’re usable.

It’s best to call your local pharmacy in advance to learn if they accept the bottles. Doing so before taking the bottles there can help save you a trip.

Give Back Unused Medicines to the Pharmacy

If you have some unused and well-stored medicines left, pharmacies in your area may accept them.

Whether you donate them or get something for them in return will depend on the pharmacy.

Nevertheless, opting to give back unused medicines can help prevent wastage.

It’s also important to note that you may be able to give unused medication to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Some law enforcement organizations also may accept them.

It’s important to give in unused medicines to appropriate and reputable organizations. This way, you’ll prevent or limit the chances of misuse.

Consider a Local Hospital

Many hospitals also accept old prescription bottles for recycling. Again, contact the hospital before you go there.

Some hospitals host periodic collection events for old prescription bottles.

They may also remove the label for you, eliminating the need for you to do it. However, if you want to be extra careful, you can remove the label beforehand.

Consider Your Local Plastic Recycling Facility

You may not be able to donate your prescription bottles to a healthcare facility or pharmacy. In that case, you can consider your local plastic recycling facility.

There are some plastics that they may or may not accept. Try to determine which type of plastic is used for the bottles.

In most cases, it’s between #1 and #7 plastics, which are recyclable.

The facility will then consider the best way to reuse the plastics from the bottles.

Some Recycling Facilities May Have Occasional Collection Events

Some recycling facilities may also have collection events occasionally. So, it may help to save the bottles and give them in during those events.

Last Few Words

It’s mostly safe to throw prescription bottles in the trash.

However, you will increase the amount of plastic in landfills, which can harm the environment in the long term.

So, recycling is a much safer option, and it doesn’t take much effort to do so.

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