Safe medication and sharps disposal

Find a convenient location near you in Monterey County to safely dispose of leftover or expired medications or used medical needles and syringes. When you leave them at a designated facility, you can feel good knowing you’re helping protect children, pets, and the environment.

Why use medication disposal bins?

Unneeded drugs that sit in your cabinet can get into the hands of children or adults who shouldn’t have them. If you throw medications in the trash or toilet, they may leach into the ground in a landfill or pollute local water supplies. Water treatment plants can’t always remove medical chemicals. But medications left in disposal bins will be destroyed safely.

To learn what you can put in the bins and how to prepare medications for disposal, visit

Safe disposal of sharps

By state law, needles, syringes, lancets, and other sharp medical items also shouldn’t go in the garbage or recycling. They could cut someone’s skin and infect them with germs.

Go to a pharmacy or hazardous waste disposal site to get a special sharps disposal container that protects people from accidental needle sticks. Take the containers home, put the sharps in them, and then bring the full container to an approved drop-off location.

Visit the County of Monterey Health Department website for an up-to-date list of locations where you can pick up and return sharps containers. To learn about ways to request containers by mail, visit the CalRecycle website.

Safe disposal sites

Download a printable guide in English [PDF] or Spanish [PDF] of places in Monterey County where you can safely get rid of medications and sharps (needles) in English [PDF] or Spanish [PDF].

Know your medications

If you take medications, make sure you:

  • Know each one’s purpose and potential side effects
  • Carry a list of what you take or keep pictures of the bottles on your phone at all times in case of a medical emergency
  • Share your list with your doctors and pharmacists before starting a new medication 

Encourage your loved ones to do the same. 

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