Safe Disposal of Unwanted Medications

How to Safely Dispose of Unwanted Household Medications


Don't flush your drugs!  Flushing unwanted and expired medications down the toilet is the least desirable of all disposal alternatives.  Wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to remove all traces of pharmaceutical chemicals.  If you flush your drugs, a portion of those contaminants will reach local waters.  Scientific studies show the chemicals in many drugs can harm aquatic life. Proper disposal of unwanted medications helps protect your family, your community and the environment.

  • Keep Pollutants out of our water - Research has linked pharmaceutical pollutants to reproductive defects in fish, resistance to antibiotics, and the development of drug resistant germs.
  • Prevent accidental poisonings - Many children and the elderly are often victims of accidental poisonings due to medications in the home.
  • Reduce drug abuse and illegal use - More teenagers abuse prescription and over-the-counter drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana.

 Here Are Ways to Safely Dispose of Unwanted Medications

1. Pour pills into a sealable plastic bag. Liquids should be left in their bottles and placed into sealed plastic bag to prevent leakage.  Take filled bags to a drop off location near you. Click here to see a list of drop off locations in West Contra Costa County.

2. Visit your local Walgreens to purchase a prepaid postage return envelope.

3. Visit websites such as U.S. Department of Justice for information on the when the next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled, and The Drug Take Back Network for the latest news on local take back program efforts, product stewardship, useful resources, and drop off locations all over the nation.

Drop Off Locations in West Contra Costa

San Pablo,  Pinole, and Richmond Police Departments along with the West County Wastewater District office are drop-off locations for unwanted and expired home-generated pharmaceuticals*.  These convenient locations allow West Contra Costa County residents to properly dispose of old pharmaceuticals and keep them out of the water supply and garbage.  The program is a collaborative effort between RecycleMore, West County Resource Recovery Inc., and the participating locations.

  • Hercules City Hall, 111 Civic Drive, Hercules; 24-Hour drop off bins are located outside of main entrance
  • San Pablo Location to be determined
  • Pinole Police Station: 880 Tennent Avenue, Pinole; Lobby hours: 8am - 5pm Mon - Fri
  • West County Wastewater District Office: 2910 Hilltop Drive, Richmond; Lobby hours: 8am - 5pm Mon - Fri, closed 12pm - 1pm
  • El Cerrito Recycling + Environmental Resource Center:  7501 Schmidt Lane, El Cerrito; 8:00am - 5pm Mon - Fri, 9am - 4:45pm Sat - Sun
  • **NEW** Richmond Fire Department Station #63: 5201 Valley View Rd, El Sobrante; 24-hour drop off bin is located outside of main entrance
  • Richmond Police Station 1701 Regatta Blvd. Richmond; 7am - 8pm Mon - Sun
  • West County HHW Collection Facility: 101 Pittsburg Avenue, Richmond; (Thur, Fri, Sat. from 9am to 4pm, closed 12-12:30pm) 

Additional Locations, Please call ahead for drop-off hours:

  • CVS/Pharmacy 1401 TARA HILL DR, PINOLE, CA 94564    (510) 724-8880
  • Kaiser Pharmacy,1301 PINOLE VALLEY RD 1ST FLOR, PINOLE, CA 94564    (510) 243-4311          
  • KAISER Richmond Hospital Main Pharmacy 901 NEVIN AVENUE, RICHMOND, CA 94801        (510) 307-3160
  • CVS/Pharmacy 2151 MEEKER AVE, RICHMOND, CA 94804        (510) 231-5922          
  • CVS/Pharmacy 10650 SAN PABLO AVE, EL CERRITO, CA 94530       (510) 527-3210
  • CVS/Pharmacy 670 EL CERRITO PLAZA, EL CERRITO, CA 94530       (510) 524-5895

*Controlled substances are not allowed in the collection bins per State and Federal Laws.

Read an article that appeared in the Nov-Dec 2012 issue of California Special District Magazine featuring the West County Wastewater District and it's participation in the program. For more information view the How to Safely Dispose of Unwanted Household Medications brochure or call 510-215-3125.